Precious Hardy and Mara Aruguete at Lincoln University of Missouri have presented a promising assessment tool in “Needs Assessment in STEM Disciplines: Reliability, Validity and Factor Structure of the Student Support Needs Scale (SSNS),” published in a 2014 issue of Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. The scale assesses six areas of support from the student and institution: Knowledge, Performance, Motivation, Self-Efficacy, Tools/Environment, and Feedback. In tests of reliability and validity, the instrument demonstrates positive relationships between the SNSS score and both overall and major GPA. The authors are encouraging college and universities to administer the tool to STEM students, especially minority students, to pinpoint support weaknesses and guide spending of funds to improve retention of STEM undergraduates.
I was hoping the academic libraries would be represented in the Tools/Environment section, but we are only vaguely there in the 19th statement to be answered with a Likert scale: “The university has many institutional processes that promote success in my major” (p. 557). Looks like we need to better market libraries as a major source of support for all students, as important as career advising, which is specifically mentioned in the instrument. I’ll keep researching for ways librarians can support STEM retention efforts, and posting them here for you to use as selling points. Please share any marketing approaches you’ve used to put your library on the radar for retention support.