Friday, November 08, 2013

5 Campus Resources Every [under]Graduate Student Should Use


A Blog from GradHacker and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online
5 Campus Resources Every [under]Graduate Student Should Use
November 5, 2013 - 7:46pm
1. Librarian
One of the best pieces of advice I received as a student was "Take your librarian out to coffee at least once a semester." Universities hire full-time librarians assigned to the major subject areas. These librarians are particularly knowledgeable of rare documents, collections, and uncatalogued resources waiting to be processed. Additionally they have the ability to order books, journals, maps, data, and other resources graduate students may need. This semester the African American studies librarian was instrumental in identifying multimedia and encyclopedic sources pertinent to my course, and I plan on working closely with the Anthropology and African studies librarians when I begin writing my dissertation.
2. Writing Center
Graduate students, especially in their upper years, have a tendency to dismiss the writing center as a resource reserved for undergraduates. While you may not need to take all of your papers there, the writing center is a particularly good place to take your conference abstracts and statements of purpose. The writing specialists are good at identifying jargon and offering suggestions to make your writing more pithy and concise. If you have a longer document like a dissertation, it may be worthwhile to pay a professional copy editor for his or her services. I regularly refer my students to the writing center and use the service to review my publications before sending them off to prospective journals.
Inside Higher Ed

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to graduate college with a job

If you’re heading off to college this fall, all sorts of people have the same advice for you. Your former teachers, your parents’ friends, the Wall Street Journal: They all want to help you get a job when you graduate, and they want you to earn enough out of the gate to make a big dent in your student loans, which means they’re all nudging you to study engineering, math or computer science.
By many measures this is wise. American business leaders and federal lawmakers are always talking about how the economy needs more hard-science majors. The job market reflects this. Let’s use statistics compiled by the Labor Department, because they’re probably more comprehensive than whatever numbers your folks’ old college roommates have on hand:
The average starting salary for an engineering major last year was $62,655, tops among the eight categories of majors tracked in the study. In 2009, at the end of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for math and computer science grads a year removed from earning their degrees was 6 percent — half the rate for humanities or social science majors.
So that’s the secret? Simple as that? Major in math or science, graduate, walk right into a good gig?
For most of you, no.
Crowds of students start their college careers with the intent to earn a so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree. A lot of them never make it. New research from a pair of economists from Berea College in Kentucky and the University of Western Ontario suggests that fewer than half of the students who start out as science majors end up earning a science degree.
The economists chalk this up to students’ “misperceptions about their ability to perform well academically in science.” Translation: STEM classes are challenging, perhaps especially so for students less interested in the subject matter than in chasing a lucrative degree.
As an economics reporter, I feel compelled to say that if you’re interested in math or science or engineering or computers, and you have the aptitude for the coursework, then, please, for the love of GDP, give a STEM major a shot. The economy needs more math and science grads to drive the big innovations that will help America prosper.
As a former political-science major, I’m happy to tell everyone who doesn’t fall into that camp that there’s hope for you in the job market, too. But you’ll have a much better chance if you start thinking now about how to use your time in school to hone skills that will improve your employability — no matter what your major.

See the entire article at:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Student success linked to library use

A new study from the University of Minnesota shows that first year undergraduate students who used the University libraries at least once:
  • Received a .23 increase in GPA (from 2.93 to 3.16), and
  • Were 1.54 times more likely to re-enroll for the second semester.
Even more significant, students who participated in the Intro to Library Research II library workshop were 7.58 times more likely to re-enroll for the second semester
This may be one of the first studies to correlate academic library usage with student success outcomes and increased retention rates. It was conducted in the fall of 2011 and spring of 2012 by the University of Minnesota Libraries in conjunction with the University’s Office of Institutional Research. The research team investigated ways to match library service usage to individual accounts while retaining student privacy to determine who was – and was not – using the library. This data was then compared with student GPA for the fall semester and re-enrollment for the spring.
It is, of course, impossible to demonstrate beforehand precisely what outcomes would be obtained if such a study were done at RCC. It does suggest, however, something that librarians and faculty members have suspected for a long time. That is that library usage increases both student success and also promotes college-wide outcomes.
The results of the University of Minnesota study will be published in the next few months. In the meantime, see these preliminary summaries at

Sunday, February 03, 2013

"Bring back shushing librarians" - posted to a listserv recently ...

"Bring back shushing librarians"

It's interesting and entertaining, but like a lot of popular commentary about surveys and research, it focuses on one finding (public desire for quiet study spaces in libraries) and downplays everything else. The actual Pew report cited is available in summary at

... and in whole at

I note that the top two (tied) services that most survey respondents said they considered "very important" were precisely the two services that seem most often under budgetary threat in present-day libraryland: trained, professional librarians for research consultation, and books to check out. Free computers/internet came in a close third, followed by the "quiet study spaces" heralded by Salon, programs for children/teens, and so on. See p. 40 of the report for the full list.

This is admittedly based on self-reported statements by survey respondents, not on data about actual usage. Nonetheless, given the difficulty of getting objective measurements about the value of the service provided by professional staff, this seems noteworthy.

I'm also intrigued by the suggestions that libraries offer Redbox-style rental kiosks, "technology petting zoos" where people can sample the latest gadgets/software before buying them, and so on.

No doubt other library types will find equally interesting and useful aspects of this report.

Bradley A. Scott

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Assessing campus libraries

From Inside Higher Ed:

Despite predictions that many bound books might soon disappear from the stacks, a strong majority (67 percent) of respondents in the Library Journal survey rated the availability of print resources on-site as either important or extremely important. The availability of in-person assistance was also highly rated (59 percent) ...

Read more:

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Reading on a Kindle is not the same as reading a book"

"Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies. Reading is an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, even if at times this can mean feeling intensely apart from it. How we hold our reading materials, how we look at them, navigate them, take notes on them, share them, play with them, even where we read them—these are the categories that have mattered most to us as readers throughout the long and varied history of reading. They will no doubt continue to do so into the future...."