HEDS Research Practices Survey (RPS)

About HEDS RPS

The HEDS Research Practices Survey (RPS) is a fifteen-minute questionnaire that assesses the information literacy of undergraduates, including their knowledge, attitudes, and practices in conducting academic research.  The Research Practices Survey questionnaire was developed by an inter-institutional group of liberal arts librarians, faculty members, and assessment specialists led by the St. Olaf Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness.

St. Olaf College is a member of the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium, which consists of approximately 130 small, private, nonprofit institutions around the country that are committed to sharing and using information to more fully enact their missions and promote effective liberal arts education.

The RPS has been administered at St. Olaf since it was first piloted in Spring 2005. RPS results show how St. Olaf students’ experiences, attitudes, and proficiencies in academic research change during the first year of college and from the beginning to the end of college.  They also show how St. Olaf students’ proficiencies compare to those of their peers at other liberal arts institutions. RPS results have been used at St. Olaf to inform the content and process of library instruction, to shape requirements for research assignments, to help prepare new FYW and WRI instructors, and to evaluate programs engaging students in research projects.

HEDS RPS recent results and reports

The HEDS Research Practices Survey (RPS) was administered to half of the first-year class (Class of 2017) at the beginning and end of the 2013-14 academic year, and also administered to half of the senior class in Spring 2014.  Among the first-years, 81% of those invited to participate did so before of during Week One, and 57% did so in the spring semester.  Among the invited seniors, 67% participated. 

RPS results show that students’ familiarity with research terms and strategies, and ability to evaluate sources, improve substantially over the course of the first year of college, and for the most part, continue to improve through the remainder of their undergraduate experience.  However, the proportion of students demonstrating proficiency or reporting “information-literate” practices varied with the type of proficiency or practice.