Information Literacy and Transfer Student Success

DePaul University Transfer Students
Transfer Students Attend an Orientation Session in 2014 (Image courtesy of the Office of New Student and Family Engagement).

A commitment to student success was a core component of Vision 2018, one seen in the library through the establishment of our Learning Commons partnerships and our work with colleagues to identify undergraduate learning goals for information literacy in first-year programs including Chicago Quarter and WRD 104. As we move toward the adoption of a new strategic plan for the university and the library, DePaul University librarians have been hard at work this year to identify unique challenges facing transfer students as they adapt to DePaul’s information and technology environment, and new opportunities to collaborate with colleagues among the faculty and student affairs professionals to meet those challenges in order to help to ensure transfer student success.

Transfer students made up one-third of the new, degree-seeking undergraduate students at DePaul in Fall 2017, and they are served by a number of programs across the university, including the Transfer Center, New Student and Family Engagement, and Transfer Student Union. While the library has long provided targeted resources for transfer students, and has participated in resource fairs like Transition DePaul, there has always been a gap between the programmatic approach we have in promoting foundational and discipline-specific information literacy skills for our first-year students when compared with the less formal approach we have been able to take with new, transfer students. A national concern among academic librarians, recent innovations like the Enhancing Student Experience (ESE) Working Group at the University at Albany (N.Y.) have shown how taking a strategic and campus-wide approach to information literacy instruction can promote transfer student success.

During 2016-17, DePaul University librarians Jessica Alverson, Jill King, Morgen MacIntosh Hodgetts, and Susan Shultz, conducted a multi-phase research study with current transfer students and with librarians at community colleges among the most active “feeder” programs for the university. Though interviews with transfer student service providers at DePaul, a survey of community college librarians, and focus groups with current students, this team uncovered a number of important gaps in the information literacy skills of incoming transfer students, the impact of “transfer shock” in the library, and the potential learning gap between these students and their classmates who received programmatic, outcomes-oriented information literacy instruction during their first and second years at the university. We are currently sharing the results of this research with community college partners and with faculty and staff (as part of the 2018 DePaul University Teaching and Learning Conference), and have begun to pilot targeted programs based on this research designed to engage transfer students.

We are currently working with colleagues in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to suggest possible approaches to a coordinated approach to promoting transfer student success, in the library and in the classroom. If you would like to know more about the DePaul University Library Transfer Study or to collaborate with librarians to identify new approaches to ensuring transfer students in your programs have the opportunity to enhance their information literacy skills as part of their successful introduction to DePaul, please contact Jessica Alverson, Assistant Coordinator for Instruction.

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