New tasks for summer

Hi everyone, it’s Ally! I figured it was time for a blog post – it’s been a while since my last post and a lot has changed recently. First, COVID-19 has impacted our work these past few months. Like many others, Hailley and I have been working from home, navigating Zoom, and creating new, virtual techniques to keep this project moving. Fortunately, this project has continued fairly smoothly online. We completed our last four interviews via Zoom and consistently have Zoom meetings to stay on track. We also had some fascinating conversations with interviewees about how COVID-19 has affected their student engagement opportunities. We’re definitely eager to tie those student perspectives into our manuscripts moving forward.

Our project is also facing changes outside of COVID-19. Now that our interviews are complete and coding is almost finished, it’s time to start analyzing our results and decide how to present this information. Hailley and I decided to first focus on creating a research report for the Penn State Student Engagement Network. This report will include the demographics of our sample, the methods we used, guidance on how to read a map, and commentary on how students are interpreting the ten categories of student engagement experiences. Additionally, we’re hoping to provide general takeaways from our data, such as what students get involved with during their first year at Penn State. Finally, Hailley and I will create a list of recommendations for the Student Engagement Network to consider on how to best support Penn State students during their student engagement journeys. I started working on this report this week and can’t wait to see it all come together!

impatient olsen twins GIF                                            [Impatient Olson twins GIF via GIPHY]

After gathering important results for the Student Engagement Network, we’ll focus more on manuscripts for publication. This will be a really exciting aspect of this project because we have so much data to choose from! We can write about our library results, the growth areas from the Student Engagement Network, the students who weren’t as involved during their first year, my perspective as an undergraduate research assistant, and more. Hailley and I are hoping to write for multiple journals to capture various perspectives of our project. I’m really excited for these next steps. Our project has come a long way, and I’m ready to tie it all together with some writing!busy daffy duck GIF                                                    [busy daffy duck GIF via GIPHY]

Learning throughout the research process

This afternoon I sat outside on my balcony, opened up NVivo, and got back to coding. The interview I was tackling one of our first interviews, done way back in October. It might have been the first solo interview I did out of the 24 and the one the interviews where, in the interview, I realized I was finding the information I had hoped to uncover in this project. The student was a senior and did a lot of undergraduate research. This was also a student who took a while to get engaged, and throughout the interview speaks about the blame they place on themselves for not getting involved sooner. It’s an interview that has stuck with me and I was excited to code it.

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Projects updates & COVID-19 impacts

Like many other universities across the United State, Penn State has moved the rest of our semester online. Ally and I have both started teleworking and today is week two of being remote. We wanted to share some project updates and how we’ll move forward without having any more face-to-face time this semester.

We feel lucky that by Spring Break, we had conducted 20 out of our 24 interviews. These interviews have been transcribed and as Ally talked about in her last post, we’ve created detailed maps to help us better understand (and remember) each student engagement journey. In addition, during the first part of this semester, Ally and I created our codebook and began to do some norming with a few interviews. This means that our transition to virtual has been pretty smooth. We’re meeting via Zoom on a regular basis and much of Ally’s work (coding) can be done independently and on a schedule that works best for her.

In addition to coding, we plan on doing some writing, compiling information on the maps for the Student Engagement Network, and creating a protocol for our last four interviews. I feel optimistic that we can get those final four interviews completed, we’ll just need to get creative about the map part. And, there’s a chance we might be interviewing a student whose engagement experience was cut short due to COVID-19. That would definitely give the map something unique and also plays well into “the cloud,” one of our guiding frameworks from Ella Kahu (2013). The one college we haven’t been able to get any interviewees is the College of Nursing and I feel that moving our interviews online might help us get two willing and available students. Stay tuned!

What are detailed maps?

Hi everyone, it’s Ally! I’m really excited to be updating you all again. Hailley and I have been busy finishing up interviews (only four more to go!) but I thought I could share a new step that we recently completed.

As we’ve been interviewing students, Hailley and I have allowed lots of creativity for students while they make their maps. Although each student hears the same set of directions, they all interpret our directions in different ways, resulting in maps that look drastically different from one another. This makes the maps a bit harder to read without context, however, we wanted students to fully express how they perceive their student engagement experiences without being limited by standardization.

Hailley and I have noticed two concepts that are most impacted by this map flexibility. First, we noticed that some students put down one sticker for one experience while other students put down multiple stickers for one experience, signaling continued involvement in one particular activity. Second, we found that some students will “nest” the different categories of student engagement by layering two different stickers on top of one another. Hailley and I have really enjoyed these map differences because it gives us strong insight into how students are thinking about student engagement. We think our semi-structured, exploratory style will pay off through rich data that can benefit the Penn State Student Engagement Network in future events and projects. However, we also recognize that these differences make it challenging for people to quickly interpret our student engagement journey maps. To make these maps easier to read, Hailley and I decided to create “detailed maps.” Essentially, we reviewed each map along with its corresponding interview and added additional information to a copy of the map. We then numbered each individual opportunity that students participated in so we can quickly pull data from a map.

The whole detailed map concept is a little confusing, so I’ve attached an example. Below is Brendan’s original map. Brendan is a senior in the College of Communications and was one of our first interviews in the fall.

Although Brendan included ten stickers, he did not complete ten individual student engagement experiences at Penn State. Below, I’ve attached Brendan’s detailed map. This will give you a stronger understanding of how many experiences Brendan was a part of.

This detailed map gives us lots of valuable information. First, it shows us that the four blue stickers represent the same organizational experience occurring each year. We can also see that the two green stickers are the same volunteering experience and the layered yellow and dark pink stickers are the same experience (a professional experience nested with a study-away experience). During his four years at Penn State, Brendan completed five student engagement experiences.

I hope this example gives you a better idea of what detailed maps are and why Hailley and I thought they were an important step in our research project. Now that the detailed maps are complete, we’re ready to code our qualitative data and finish up our last four interviews. We’ll definitely keep you posted. Thanks for reading!




C&CS Webinar Updates

In my last post, I mentioned that I didn’t have many details on the upcoming webinar Ally and I are doing. As soon as I published the post, we got more details! So I’m happy to share those details. You can find the Zoom registration link on their website. The description of the webinar is below!

Centering Student Voices: Conducting Library Research with an Undergraduate 

Library research is often conducted around undergraduate students, but these students usually do not have a say in the research project design. If libraries can find ways to include undergraduates in their research projects, there is potential for not only student-centered research, but also an opportunity for the library to provide a meaningful undergraduate research experience. Additionally, both the student and library benefit from this collaboration. The student learns more about the field of LIS and refines their research skills while the library benefits by learning more about how our students can use their disciplinary background in our research setting. This presentation will present the process of hiring, training, and collaborating with an undergraduate student. Specifically, this presentation is an overview of Mapping the Student Engagement Journey, an exploratory, qualitative research project on student engagement experiences. The presenters will discuss how this research project benefits from the undergraduate student, who is both a collaborator and insider, helping to strengthen the project itself to gather results.


New year, same project!

We’re back! 2020 is starting off fast and furious and here at Penn State and we are just beginning week three of the semester. It has been wonderful to have Ally back in the office and we are ready to conquer the second half of this project. Some of our work has stayed the same (recruiting students and interviewing them) and other parts are new (analyzing the interview transcripts, writing manuscripts, and presentations). Lucky, we have a great support system, within the Libraries, at the Student Engagement Network, and with colleagues in the LIS field to help and encourage us as we move into these new parts.

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