Over the past three years, we partnered with a group of seven colleges looking to more effectively support their students by providing new and strengthened services from the library and beyond. Across these colleges, we interviewed dozens of students and later surveyed over 10,000 to examine their goals, challenges, and unmet needs. The project was led by Northern Virginia Community College and Ithaka S+R, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Today, we are excited to release a toolkit of resources so others can leverage the methodologies employed in this project at their own colleges and universities.

Our work for this project focused on three high-level research questions:

  • How do students define success?
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What might help them succeed?

We explored these questions through three phases of work:

  • Qualitative Discovery in which on-campus, in-depth, in-person qualitative interviews were conducted that focused on the practices, preferences, and needs of community college students and their relationship to success
  • Service Concept Development in which we developed a series of concepts for services that colleges and their libraries might offer based on the findings of the discovery phase
  • Survey Assessment in which we evaluated the service concepts with students through a survey to assess their potential value

For institutions and researchers that may be interested in employing these methodologies, the toolkit contains a number of resources required to conduct similar studies. All relevant reports and publications are included in the toolkit, as well as an IRB application template, a qualitative interview script, the survey questionnaire, survey communication template texts, and more.

To kick off the release of the toolkit, we are holding a webinar tomorrow, Thursday, February 13 at 3 pm ET. During the webinar, my colleague Christine Wolff-Eisenberg and I will walk through the toolkit’s resources. We will also be joined by Katie Ghidiu at Monroe Community College and Jennifer Sundheim at Pierce College District who will discuss how they translated the research findings of the project into action at their colleges. If you are interested in attending the webinar, please click here to register. If you are unable to attend the webinar, you will be able to access a recording of the webinar through the toolkit next week.

If you are interested in receiving further guidance on how to leverage the toolkit at your institution, please contact my colleague Christine Wolff-Eisenberg at christine.wolff-eisenberg@ithaka.org. We look forward to hearing from you!