Digging in the Mines: Mining Course Syllabi in Search of the Library
Keywords:academic librarianship, syllabus, assessment, text mining
Objective - The purpose of this study was to analyze a syllabus collection at a large, public university to identify how the university’s library was represented within the syllabi. Specifically, this study was conducted to see which library spaces, resources, and people were included in course syllabi and to identify possible opportunities for library engagement.
Methods - A text analysis software called QDA Miner was used to search using keywords and analyze 1,226 syllabi across eight colleges at both the undergraduate and graduate levels from the Fall 2014 semester.
Results - Of the 1,226 syllabi analyzed, 665 did not mention the library’s services, spaces, or resources nor did they mention projects requiring research. Of the remaining 561, the text analysis revealed that the highest relevant keyword matches were related to Citation Management (286), Resource Intensive Projects (262), and Library Spaces (251). Relationships between categories were mapped using Sorensen’s coefficient of similarity. Library Space and Library Resources (coefficient =.500) and Library Space and Library Services (coefficient-=.457) were most likely to appear in the same syllabi, with Citation Management and Resource Intensive Projects (coefficient=.445) the next most likely to co-occur.
Conclusion - The text analysis proved to be effective at identifying how and where the library was mentioned in course syllabi. This study revealed instructional and research engagement opportunities for the library’s liaisons, and it revealed the ways in which the library’s space was presented to students. Additionally, the faculty’s research expectations for students in their disciplines were better understood.
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