The learning commons committee is creating a report to summarize the results of their survey about campus study spaces.
The committee will send a report to administration and the trustees to request improvements and changes to learning commons areas. The report also will be made available to students.
The committee consists of 16 faculty and staff members, who met once or twice each month since the committee’s formation in the fall to discuss their findings. Between meetings, members researched learning commons, observed student habits in study areas on campus, as well as at other Oklahoma schools, and consulted with learning commons experts on campus; Victoria Swinney, director of the Dulaney-Browne Library; Jenny Minsberg, disabilities service coordinator, and Paul Gebb, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
“The end goal is to create better study environments for students across the campus so they’re more able to work collaboratively and learn effectively,” Swinney said.
The committee sent a survey to members of Student Government Association in January, asking questions about where students study and how study spaces could be improved. A revised version of the survey was sent electronically in February to all undergraduate and graduate students. At the committee’s last meeting March 11, they reviewed the responses.
“Research says if you get 10 percent of the recipients to respond, you’re lucky, but we got over 20 percent,” said Dr. Liz Willner, chairwoman of the education department. “We had 261 responses, which is awesome since there was no incentive.”
In their responses, students mentioned the need for more white boards, printers and outlets. They also said ideal spaces to study had comfortable furniture, food, drink, and natural light.
“I loved that students’ passion for academics showed through their responses, and they talked about things they appreciated within current study spaces,” Willner said. “However, I did find it disappointing that a sixth semester student didn’t know about interlibrary loans. I guess that means we need to make our resources more available.”
The official report is scheduled to be completed and distributed before the end of the month.
Some of the simpler improvements are underway. Campus Technology staff immediately began work to provide more outlets and hookups for student use, and library staff is further training employees to help students with computer issues.
“As director of library, I’m working on parts I want to be ready by fall,” Swinney said. “Aside from more computer help, I want to make the electricity availability more visible. We actually have electrical outlets on most floors every 24 inches, but you have to know it’s there and look for it, mainly in the baseboards.”
The library also plans to make laptop printing more available. It is possible now, but it is much easier to print from PCs than Macs, Swinney said. To print from a laptop, ask staff at the circulation desk or follow the instructions under “Printing” at libguides.okcu.edu/services/technology.
Daniel Etti-Williams, acting freshman, likes current spaces, but wishes he could study outside more.
“The library study areas are nice and private, but I’d love to see more outdoor study spaces,” he said. “If there were umbrellas over the outside table or a study tent somewhere, I would study outside in the scorching sun or pouring rain.”
Some student requests may become long-term projects.
“Many students requested sound-proof study areas or study rooms without glass walls,” Willner said. “We will look into it, but we have to balance privacy and safety. If someone needs help, we have to be able to get to them.”
Students also asked for study areas with 24-hour access. The committee would like to make this a reality, but safety issues will need resolutions first, Willner said.
To read more about the learning commons committee and their survey, see this article.