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Library Student Experience Project: Academic Interviews

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The team of College Liaison Librarians recruited academic participants from colleges across the university and carried out  interviews with them between April and May 2018, asking them what constitutes a good quality assignment, and what they expect students to do to find relevant information for their assignments. There were a number of common themes that emerged in these interviews:

Library-related findings

Using the Library
Academics expect their students to use the Library for their assignments. They consider the Library as not just a building, but a virtual world of online resources that students need to learn about.


Many of the academics interviewed provide reading lists, and they all put library resources for their modules in Brightspace.
They are concerned about students using non-academic sources such as Wikipedia or Sparknotes, and relying too much on lecture notes. Interviewees believe that students find it difficult to read and understand peer reviewed journal articles, and that the Library can help by teaching them how to approach the literature in their disciplines.

Searching/ Information Skills
Interviewees believed the Library should be involved in teaching research skills to students, and that this teaching should be embedded in programmes across all colleges.


Library services
Both the services provided by the physical library and those provided online were mentioned by interviewees. They particularly emphasised the need for group study spaces and laptop loans in the physical library, and the increasing relevance of the online library.


Several academics use annotated bibliographies and literature reviews as formative assignments. They believe that students have different learning needs at each stage in their courses, and that library skills teaching should also reflect this.


Writing Skills
Academics universally agree on the need to improve students’ writing skills, mentioning citation and referencing as aspects to focus on.


Critical Thinking
All interviewees mentioned critical thinking as a key skill for students. They believe argumentative reasoning, evaluating information and drawing their own conclusions are hallmarks of good quality assignments.


Most academic mentioned the gap between secondary school and higher education as an important challenge for students, together with overwork and poor time-management skills.