Andrew Asher, Assessment Librarian for IU Libraries will embark on a multi-year national research project in May, thanks to full project funding by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The organization has committed $514,484 to the collaborative, multi-university project, "Getting to know their data doubles: An inquiry into student perceptions of privacy issues associated with academic library participation in learning analytics." The work seeks to answer questions about how learning analytic initiatives consider student privacy and related expectations.
Asher is part of a research team consisting of collaborators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, Oregon State University, his own Indiana University-Bloomington, and Indiana University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). The research group proposes that American librarians have long argued that user privacy is worthy of protection, putting the value at the core of its code of ethics. However, very little research has addressed learning analytics and student privacy issues from a student perspective. Further, the grant proposal noted that "no scholarship currently exists that specifically considers student perceptions of their privacy when libraries are actively leading or contributing to learning analytics initiatives."
The team seeks to answer this overarching research question: How do these initiatives align with or run counter to student expectations of privacy; and with these insights, how might libraries maximize the benefits of learning analytics while respecting student expectations?
The work will begin in May 2018 and continue through 2021. Outcomes will be a rigorous account of student perceptions, creation of an empirically-driven and theoretically-sound definition of student privacy and development recommendations for future practice, policy and technological design.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. IMLS seeks to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development, with a vision of a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities.