Emily Sartorius, Library Assessment in Student Learning Lab

The winter of 2020 was my second semester as a Research Fellow for the IMLS Grant-funded Library as Research Lab. The Library Assessment in Student Learning Lab continued to analyze the data from our survey, while starting a new interview study about evaluating information. Between adapting our previous research to inform our interview protocol, learning new ways of coding qualitative interview responses, learning and adapting to a new coding software, and eventually transitioning to virtual meetings due to COVID-19, the common theme throughout the semester seemed to be flexibility and adaptation. 

We began the new semester with the mapping of our new research study and adapting an interview protocol from winter 2019 to fit with our research question. Last year’s lab performed a series of interviews where they asked first-year students to role-play as a librarian, and teach the research team how to search for information. Our team adapted this interview protocol, and used the preliminary results from our fall 2019 survey to shape a new interview protocol, where students taught the research team how to evaluate information as if the first-year student was the librarian. We jumped into this process of adaptation, pilot-testing, reflection, and revision. The work of our previous fellows provided us with a road map, and we were able to shape it to meet our current needs and questions. 

Our fellows had to continue to adapt to new research and assessment processes. For example, this was the first time our lab members coded interview responses. This was different than applying codes to  our initial short survey responses. With a new kind of data, we also had to adapt our way of coding data. It took about four weeks, guided by our mentors to learn this new skill and develop a new kind of codebook. After having adapted our coding skills to reflect our new study, it was time to jump in and code within Dedoose. Learning how to use a new software collaboratively required flexibility and openness in communication. It also required patience with ourselves as we learned how to use a new tool. 

Finally, as a team we had to demonstrate our flexibility and adaptability due to the sudden closing of the university and library building during the COVID 19 pandemic. Our team had to switch to complete remote communication. We presented posters virtually, and held small and large group team meetings to analyze data. Adapting to a new workflow was challenging, but our team remained flexible and open to try new strategies, which made the transition of adapting to this new way of collaborating smooth. 

Overall this entire project has been a learning and growing experience, but especially this semester I have some great examples of how our team was flexible and able to adapt from one situation to the next and continued to be successful. I look forward to taking these experiences with me to my future endeavors.