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Brittany Metzger
6. Collecting and Analyzing Data

Abstract

This project is concerned with the Lawson McGhee library, part of the Knox County Public Library system and located in the city of Knoxville, Tennessee. The Children's Room of the Lawson McGhee library provides storytime kits for teachers and child care providers to check out and use. This service will be assessed as to its usefulness and visibility to its intended users

Conduct community analysis and implement your evaluation action plan to gather feedback from users about your selected PL service under study. Report in terms of the following: Summarize and report findings (question-by-question) based on data gathered while conducting user-centered assessment/evaluation about your selected PL service. If applicable, provide transcription of data collected as an appendix. (Provide other forms of data collected).
6.1 Critique and analyze data collected: Discuss and report user feedback about the PL service in terms of their needs and information experiences, availability and access, barriers/challenges faced in using the select service, kinds of benefits in using the service, suggestions for improving the service, etc.

A SurveyMonkey link was sent to the Preschool coordinator for the Knox county school district, who kindly distributed it to all the preschool teachers in the district. From this distribution, 17 responses were gathered. All respondents were female, between the ages of 28-59, and worked with children from 3-5 years of age. Surveys were also left with the Children's Room; however, no one checked out a kit in the week-long period of assessment, and so none could be collected.

Question One: Have you heard of the Library's storytime kits before?

Yes - 2

No - 15

Question Two: Have you used the Library's storytime kits before?

Yes - 1

No - 16

Question Three: If you have not used the kits before, would you want to in the future?

Yes - 15

N/A - 2 (one said "maybe")

Why or why not?

-Literacy is a major focus in preschool. I would be able to incorporate the skills in ways that preschooler learn. It would be a great resource to have

-They sound like they would be a complete resource for the story that is being read/taught.

-I am interested in what each bag has in it.

-Maybe--It depends on how they fit into the curriculum and standards.

-yes, they are centered around great themes and include rhyming activities, puzzles, felt pieces- maybe for sequencing, puppets for oral language. I think this would be a good thing.

-They sound like a useful resource.

-It would be a great learning tool

Question Four: If you have used the kits before, did you find them useful to your curriculum?

Yes - 1

N/A - 16

Question Five: If you have used the kits before, did your students react well to the programming?

Yes - 0

No - 0

N/A - 17 (no explanation given for why the respondent who had used them before did not answer this question)

Question Six: If you have used the kits before, what would you add to them? What would you not use again?

"Very useful. All materials r at hand"

Question Seven: Any additional comments?

" I did not know about the kits, but will look into them. It sounds like a wonderful resource for any early education curriculum!"

Of the seventeen responses gathered, 15 had never heard of the program before, two respondents had heard of the program, and only one of these had used it previously. Of the 16 participants who had not used the kits previously, 15 said they would definitely want to use them in the future, with one maybe, depending on how well they fit into the state curriculum and standards. Reasons given as to why participants would want to use the kits are highly encouraging, as they are largely very positive and they anticipate the many uses of the kits. From these responses, it can clearly be seen that the target population for these kits are overwhelmingly interested in and in favor of using the kits. It is equally obvious that very few members of the target audience have ever heard of the kits prior to participating in this survey.

For the second half of the survey regarding previous use of the kits, only one respondent was able to answer. This data is included for completion's sake, but the use of the information which can be drawn from a single individual's perspective is limited at best. This respondent clearly found the kits useful to her curriculum, but gave no reason for why she did not respond to the question about whether students reacted well to the programming. Her opinion on the kits (hat they are "very useful...all materials [are] at hand") is encouraging but did not answer what she liked or would change about the kits. What little can be generalized is that this one user, at least, found the kids to be worthwhile and found them a useful resource, but this cannot be generalized to all users of the kits and is an incomplete picture.

The overall response to the information given about this service can best be summed up in the only additional comment left on the survey: "I did not know about the kits, but will look into them. It sounds like a wonderful resource for any early education curriculum!" This survey was able to answer the first research question addressed clearly - interest in this program from its target population is evident, and it is equally evident that the marketing for the kits is extremely lacking. From this it can be deduced that there is a need for this service, but that the biggest challenge in using it is knowing that it exists at all. Users all agree that from the official description, the kits sound like excellent and convenient resources that would be good for use in their classrooms. However, the second research question of whether or not current users find the kits useful is difficult. The lone respondent who had previously utilized the kits seems to find them useful, but did not provide a great deal of additional information, and generalizing from a single data point is dodgy science at best.

6.2 Improvement strategies: Present a plan for improvement strategies to implement in relation to the selected service for the PL to follow based on the data that you collected during this study. Develop a categorization scheme for the improvement strategies under different headings as appropriate (e.g., web representation, training, marketing to users, etc.).

There are several possible improvement strategies that can be employed in the case of the Storytime to Go kits. The most successful one, however, is one that focuses heavily on marketing and outreach efforts while increasing the use of ongoing assessment of current users of the kits.

Marketing

It is clear from the survey responses that better marketing efforts are the number one improvement strategy that can improve the use of the "Storytimes to Go" service. Despite gaining responses from a relatively large number of preschool educators, only one had ever heard of the service prior to taking the survey. When the majority of your target audience is unaware of your product, there is a definite marketing deficiency. As previously discussed with Erin Nguyen, very little marketing for the kits currently exists. In this case, several marketing strategies should be employed, including representation within the library that the service exists - posters, brochures, displays, and so forth - as well as increased web representation and outreach to local schools.

Web Representation

Web representation is a part of marketing this program that is particularly important and which deserves its own subheading. Educators are very busy people who are also likely to be technologically literate. This makes it more likely that they will seek information online. There are several ways to increase the web presence of the kits - giving them their own page on the "Kid Zone" section of the library's website, for example, as well as possibly adding them to the library's OPAC so that they can be browsed and accessed more easily. By increasing the kits' web presence, the likelihood of educators discovering and using them increases greatly.

Outreach to Schools

Reaching out to the local school district is another important part of the marketing efforts that the library should put forth. Because of the specialized nature of these kits, tailoring the marketing efforts to their intended users is of the utmost importance. A good way to do this would be to have librarians visit schools with preschool programs and demonstrate a storytime using one of the kits, then leaving promotional materials behind for the teachers. This could also be done with local daycare centers as well. This survey itself seems to have functioned as a sort of outreach, as several participants responded that they would be looking into using the kits in the future.

Ongoing Assessment

As became clear in conducting this survey, finding current users of these kits is difficult at this time. In order to be sure that interested users who find the kits through improved marketing strategies become repeat users of the kits, it is necessary to begin ongoing assessment of how users perceive the kits, what they like and do not like, and what they would add. This can be done very simply by including an assessment survey similar to this researcher's in the kits and asking that users fill it out and return it along with the kit.

6.3 Report findings to your PL and provide feedback about their response to your findings.

Survey results were collated into an easily understandable basic report and emailed to Erin Nguyen, Children's Room manager and cooperating librarian on this project. She was very grateful for the feedback on the program - as previously mentioned, the library will be revamping and making a marketing push for the kits next fall, and the additional data will help. She also mentioned that the results confirm what they hoped and thought was the case - that the Storytime to Go kits are excellent resources that many users have an interest in, but that hardly anyone knows about them to be interested in the first place. It confirmed the library's plans going forward to make the kits available for circulation from branch libraries as well as the main library. It also means that a big PR/marketing push they are planning once the program has been updated will likely be successful.

6.4 Critique your process: Discuss and report your process while conducting user-centered assessment in your evaluation action plan and include your observations, what worked and did not work, obstacles and challenges, etc. Provide a discussion of the most interesting facts that emerged during the process.

Overall, this survey was very successful in answering the first big research question asked as to the knowledge level and possible interest of the target audience, but not quite as successful in answering the second question, that of whether current users find the kits useful. That the Knox County School District has a preschool coordinator and that she was helpful enough to distribute the SurveyMonkey link to every preschool teacher in the district was immensely useful and allowed for high quality data to be collected in regard to the first question. Another thing that worked was the survey design, which was clean, simple, and got the information that it was designed to find.

One thing which did not work in this assessment process was the inability to get data from more than one user of the kits. The response from said user was also incomplete, making it difficult to make many generalizations there from. Another issue to be addressed is that the survey, while simple and easy to answer, may have been too simple. Additional questions, such as if it would affect their likelihood of using the kits being that users need to go to the main branch library to pick them up, may have been helpful. The biggest obstacle overall, however, was not having enough data to answer the second research question. This could have been addressed by running the survey over a greater period of time, allowing for the possibility of a kit being checked out from the Children's Room and the staff there being able to get a response from that individual. In general, having a longer time to collect surveys would have helped, as it would give users more time to respond. Surveys were distributed right before Easter weekend, meaning some participants likely did not remember to respond when they came back to work. Another issue is the lack of representation of daycare workers in this survey. This came down to the logistical issue of there being many daycares in the county and no good listing of where they were or how to contact them, or if they employed licensed teachers or not. Despite these challenges, however, a large amount of useful data was still gathered and the results were quite interesting.

An interesting fact that came from the data was how unanimous interest in the service is. The researcher expected interest from those who had not heard of the service before, but not for every single participant to want to try out the kits. Likewise, it was expected at least a few more people - especially preschool teachers in the target audience, some of who have been with the district for quite some time - would have heard of the kits prior to this assessment. That they did not shows how very little marketing has existed for how long. The overwhelming interest in the kits, however, is very encouraging for the Children's Room as they move forward with updating and expanding the program in the new school year.

References

Knox County Public Library. (2014). Kid Zone. Retrieved from http://www.knoxlib.org/kid-zone
SurveyMonkey. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.surveymonkey.com.

Spring 2015

Contact K.C. Williams

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