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How to Assure Quality in Higher Education?
Focus on Innovation, Minimum Standards, and Continuous Improvement

The U.S. quality assurance system—focused mainly on accreditation as a threshold for federal financial aid eligibility—has done a poor job of assuring quality. Barely 60 percent of first-time students complete a bachelor’s degree and 40 percent complete an associate’s degree at the institution where they started. These overall results mask a wide range of outcomes across institutions. As a result, many students, parents, and policymakers question the value of their massive investment in postsecondary education. Can the accreditation process be improved? Or do we need a fundamentally different system? Our new Ithaka S+R report argues that with some modest but…


How Can We Better Support Agriculture Scholars?

Today Ithaka S+R releases its in-depth report on the research activities of agriculture scholars as part of its ongoing program to explore the research activities of scholars by discipline. For Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Agriculture Scholars, we explore the breadth of agriculture research activities in U.S. higher education towards fostering information services that will support those endeavors. As the report highlights, agriculture is a particularly compelling field because of its broad scope and wider societal relevance, which leads to questions about how research insights will be shared with and lead to benefits for the public-at-large. Supporting the Changing…


Re-Framing Advanced Subject Degrees for Library Work

Late last week my librarian twitter-sphere erupted into a new round of what is a regular topic of debate about the place for advanced subject degrees in the profession (for example, see here and here). Proponents argue that advanced subject degrees can directly inform library work by providing in-depth knowledge into a subject area being served. Proponents also argue for the indirect benefit of gaining experiential knowledge into the processes of academia. Opponents highlight that these perceived values are inflated, foster exclusion and elitism, and undermine the value of the library degree. The terms of the debate are fraught because…


Leveraging Regret: Maximizing Survey Participation at the Duke University Libraries

Students are a notoriously difficult population to recruit for surveys. To combat this, Ithaka S+R has developed a number of strategies to encourage participation in our local surveys of undergraduate and graduate/professional students. Crafting effective invitation and reminder messages, determining when to send these messages, and ensuring that your communications are received and opened are all necessary steps in garnering maximum levels of participation from any population. For our local surveys of students specifically, we have found that the additional motivation of an incentive, such as a drawing for university apparel or a coupon for a free coffee on campus, is…


Looking at Library Information Technology, Leadership, and Culture
New Issue Brief from Dale Askey and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe

Last year, I wrote on the changing organizational structure of academic libraries. Across my interviews with the former and current directors of large research libraries, I found a number of areas where these leaders were taking similar approaches—in redefining the role of the AUL, reallocating the staffing and materials budgets for general collections, and experimenting with new approaches to outreach and engagement roles. Their approach, however, was not as uniform when it came to library technology. And indeed some directors were uncertain how best to manage technology resources strategically or tended to collapse technology-enabled services with information technology. Perhaps this…