Linking Library to Student Retention: A Statistical Analysis
Objective - This study analyses both library expenditure and student retention. It seeks to determine if positive correlations found in a former study endure using more recent data or if alternative interpretations can be made. It includes the associate degree-granting colleges and examines whether library instruction has a greater significance on student retention over expenditure and if library instruction at the two-year college correlates to retention.
Methods - The colleges and universities included in the study grant associate, bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees, based on Carnegie Foundation classification. Data was analysed to determine if a correlation exists between the library and student persistence. Library statistics were drawn from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Metrics database which provides reports collected from academic institutions. When aggregated, the ACRL report yielded total library expenditures, total salaries of professional staff, the professional staff full-time equivalent (FTE), fall semester student enrolment and data from a library instruction category of ACRL surveys for associate degree-granting institutions.
Results - After replicating the same mathematical approach, the single category that has remained constant for all institutions is professional staff. While the former study’s analysis suggested that a relationship between library expenditure and retention existed in every Carnegie category, this study asserts that the same argument cannot be made for master’s degree-granting institutions. The findings here indicate that total library and professional salary expenditure had a negative correlation. Also, while an analysis of instruction at the two-year school level cannot make the case that expenditure and staffing significantly influence retention, they can justify that instruction plays a factor in whether a student persists with their education.
Conclusion - The current research posits that there is no longer a relationship between library expenditure per se and student retention. Further research is needed to resolve the differences in the results of the study. Since there is a correlation between library instruction and retention at the two-year college, high-impact information literacy activities can form a bond between the student and the institution. Considering the low retention rates at the two-year school, a customised library instruction approach may be a solution to improving retention.
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