Identity, Data, and Davidson 101

How does college shape identity?

This questidav_101_2014on is central to this year’s Library Davidson 101, an online survey and exercise for Davidson’s incoming first-year students. Back in January, librarian Matthew Vest wrote a post about our analysis of the 2013 data gathered from this assignment. The data is extremely useful to us, and we strive to make Library Davidson 101 useful for the students too.

Our theme for Library Davidson 101 is tied to this year’s common reading book, The Other Wes Moore. We were excited by the selection because identity formation is a major theme of the book. Apt for students currently transitioning from high school to college, this theme is reflected in our example sources throughout the survey and exercise. For the exercise portion, students are asked to imagine they are starting a research project and, inspired by The Other Wes Moore, they focus their topic on the impact college has on student identities. We present the students with four sources on this topic. They must choose one for discard, find two additional and related sources, and explain their reasoning.

Once the students submit their exercise, we respond to each one and give them personalized feedback. Our goal is to help prepare these students for the research assignments they will encounter once they begin classes. Additionally, the data from Library Davidson 101 will help us better understand the students’ research attitudes and skills, which will enable us to better tailor library instruction to their needs. We hope the students’ arrival on campus will not only instigate reflection about the formation of their college identity, but also about the development of their research skills.