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Study: Library class potentially helps students graduate college

Metro Wire Staff

A new study suggests that to earn a college degree, students should consider taking a library class.

UW-Stevens Point students who passed Library Resources 101 were 18.5 percent more likely to earn bachelor’s degrees than classmates who never enrolled in the course. Those results were published recently in the journal College & Undergraduate Libraries.

“Research skills are essential to college success,” said Troy Espe, a UW-Stevens Point librarian.

Library Resources 101 has been offered since 1994 and teaches basic research skills. The one-credit course introduces students to the library while emphasizing online materials ranging from e-books to streaming videos.

Taught by librarians, the class aims to reduce students’ fears of navigating large college libraries. Librarians employ interactive activities such as a scavenger hunt and a “Jeopardy!”-themed midterm review.

“College libraries can be bewildering,” UW-Stevens Point instruction librarian Dave Dettman said. “Library Resources 101 shows students where to find credible sources that their professors will accept for research assignments.”

The study found that graduation rates increased substantially for at-risk students, including low-income and academically unprepared undergraduates. Students of color were 26.4 percent more likely to graduate after passing Library Resources 101, according to the findings.

“Diversity and retention are campuswide goals at UW-Stevens Point,” Espe said. “This study suggests that a library course contributes to both of those initiatives.”

The study is the largest of its kind. Researchers analyzed more than 33,000 student records from a 14-year span. More than 1,200 UW-Stevens Point students completed Library Resources 101 between 2004 to 2018.

“Students often tell us that they wish they had taken the course in their first semester of college,” Dettman said.

Three UW-Stevens Point departments contributed to the peer-reviewed article. Along with Espe and Dettman from the university libraries, Marv Noltze from the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and Mathematics Professor Daniel Harnett collaborated on the project.

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