Let’s explore some of the complex questions surrounding the importance of the student learning experience in relation to the TEF.
The importance of libraries and suppliers working together to innovate in this area, driving improved student (and as a result, TEF) outcomes cannot be overlooked.
There are various metrics that feed into a final TEF score – these are student record data (for example, student retention rates), HESA UK performance indicators (based on returns from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey) and student satisfaction indicators derived from the National Student Survey (NSS). But if we focus our attention on learning resource provision, and how this shapes the overall score achieved by an institution – with the sought-after Gold award requiring the active and consistent use of outstanding physical and digital resources by students to enhance learning, we should first consider the NSS, exploring the questions included in the survey addressing library resources, and why the survey is so important to HE institutions and more specifically, libraries; in the case of the latter, the NSS provides valuable information regarding student satisfaction with library resources, helps libraries benchmark their performance, and provides evidence to be used when justifying projects and initiatives.
The first of these is the increased student expectations that accompany higher fees; such as the expectation that libraries will hold sufficient copies of key textbooks, or that students themselves may influence purchasing decisions.
Another key point mentioned was the TEF requirement for universities to demonstrate the “impact” of library activities on student attainment. So, how can suppliers like Dawson Books help libraries improve student satisfaction?
The importance of high quality data is fundamental to achieving this goal – for example, for Dawson to accurately match titles to library subjects of interest, to facilitate the discovery of new titles through dawsonenter, and for PDA profile matching. Resource list support is flagged up as a key area where suppliers can work closely with university libraries – an increasingly important area given the rapid expansion of resource lists in recent years. Key tools on dawsonenter that can help with this include MIS reports that provide details of new editions of previously purchased titles,Dawson’s title match service that can match print books to ebook availability on dawsonera, as well as Dawson’s Out of Print service.
Dawson can also help HE libraries through the creation of course packs; identifying relevant titles, sourcing large numbers of specific titles at competitive prices, collating course packs, and then distributing these to students. Now let’s consider the topic of eTextbooks, another area of growing importance in recent years; eTextbooks are vital to libraries endeavouring to provide sufficient copies of key course texts, as well as facilitating wider accessibility to resources, such as for distant learners. Dawson’s new partnership with Kortext as a key industry development in this area – an agreement that will bring together library eTextbooks and ebooks onto a single platform that also facilitates a range of advanced analytics, integral to demonstrating impact for the TEF.
Moving on to the issue of student selection. Students frequently request books for libraries to purchase, and studies have reported higher usage of texts selected by students directly. Utilising Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) projects, suppliers can help libraries build their ebook collections with student selection input – and such an approach can be used to justify purchasing decisions through proven demand.
Regarding print, there is also value of “More Books” initiatives, where dedicated funds are set aside for purchasing books recommended by students, as well as sourcing books through inter-library loans, PDA and reciprocal borrowing agreements. Such initiatives have been particularly fruitful in sourcing books for research projects undertaken by final year students – contributing directly to NSS scores.
Dawson can co-operate with libraries to improve resource provision with buying lists – curating collections for new courses and subject areas, supplementing areas with low NSS scores, or selecting, producing and shelving opening day collections for new libraries.
TEF will impact and change the library services and resources required by students – placing emphasis on resources “actively and consistently” used by students to “enhance learning” – some of which may not exist yet! In the future there is expected to be tighter integration between libraries and the academics who use them, as well as a push to identify the resources that will encourage the highest levels of student engagement. These demands raise a number of challenges: the need to develop new metrics to map engagement (particularly with print resources), and the need to produce new workflows and acquisitions models.
In summary, new resources required by the TEF need to be developed, and this is best undertaken through close partnerships between publishers, suppliers and librarians.