User Experience Librarian Diane Granfield and Evaluation and Assessment Librarian Lisa Levesque will discuss the methodology and results of their user experience study. This study was exploratory in nature, utilizing grounded theory. The design focused on understanding the lived experience of students prior to drawing conclusions about it. For this study, students were asked to draw a cognitive map of a recent research project and then explain this map in a semi-structured interview. The purpose was to better understand the student research process: what resources, systems, places, and people do students interact with when completing an academic assignment, and what emotions do they experience along the way? Additionally, it allowed the researchers to undertake an evaluation of the cognitive mapping methodology.
This talk ties into the conference theme of for the people in two ways. Exploring the student experience within a grounded theory framework provided us with raw material unfiltered by a focus on the library. With the focus on student experience as our starting point, it provided useful information about the role of the library in the academic life of students. We will also elaborate on a number of interesting avenues for future research. Second, the act of creating a cognitive map is itself a reflective process. Student participants were invited to reflect on the mapping exercise. For some students, reflecting on past research was a new experience. For others, their research process was already drawn out in their minds, so to speak, after years of development.