Enriching the Federal Work-Study Program Through the Library’s Access Services
Club meetings. Quiet spaces to study. Specialized collections that encourage extensive research. Cultural programs that spark life-long learning. All this and more can be found at the IU Southeast Library, which serves as the de facto hub of the campus experience. For some students, the library also offers jobs to those utilizing the Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP). One faculty member sees these jobs as more than a paycheck – they are an opportunity to provide an enriching experience for the student employee to increase career readiness after graduation.
Christopher Proctor, M.L.S., coordinator of access services, and campus accreditation project manager, has a clear vision of providing a richer, more overtly educational experience for the FWSP students.
“After evaluating the library’s past use of FWSP, I believed it could be strengthened to provide students with greater opportunities to develop and hone skills needed to be productive citizens and employees,” said Proctor. “To make this happen, I used my experience working with the regional accreditation process, which emphasizes the role of assessment and continuous improvement within university operations, to create a co-curricular assessment model incorporating programmatic level goals, learning outcomes, and assessment tools encompassing both direct and indirect evidence of student learning.”
Proctor started by mapping student workers’ responsibilities and duties to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Career Readiness Competencies to better understand how to foster career readiness. A new training program was then constructed that places a heavy emphasis on active, hands-on learning.
The next phase involved contacting former student employees to collect data on the professional skills students believed they gained or did not gain from their work.
“A recurring comment received was that students wanted more purpose-driven projects,” said Proctor. “These results fueled my decision to completely overhaul the FWSP experience. Not only was I still focused on how we could instill career readiness in our students, but now I also had an eye towards retention, persistence, and completion. I scoured the literature to look for methods I could implement, and the conclusion I came to was that we should actively integrate High Impact Practices (HIPs) into the training program and daily work activities.”
The final stage was to create a new, ever-evolving training program, incorporating the power of Canvas, that was structured and uniform for all students and trainers.
The end result of this overhaul has yielded impressive results. Pre- and post-tests measuring the mastery of defined program-level goals indicated student learning growth among all categories.
- Data Protection and Privacy: Increased from 68.16% to 94.82%.
- Policies: General and Library Specific: Increased from 16.39% to 81.94%.
- Principles of Telephone Customer Service: Increased from 64.19% to 96.30%.
- Principles of Customer Service: Increased from 52.96% to 78.15%.
Proctor also created a standardized rubric to assess information literacy skills and research-services knowledge of eligible student employees, across each of the peer research assistant ranks. The results indicated that over 66% of the student employees exceeded expectations and over 33% met expectations.
Proctor recently presented these results and shared the key elements of the redesigned program at the North American Back in Circulation Again Conference for Access Services.
“After the conference, I was contacted by other libraries, both academic and public, for guidance on adapting/adopting elements of the training program at their own institutions,” said Proctor. “It is clear that the impact of my initiative will extend beyond IU Southeast.”