LINCOLN— Elizabeth Rodacker-Borgens, Union College associate professor of English as a Second Language, and three librarians from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln—Jolie Ogg Graybill, Charlene Maxey-Harris and Charity Martin—have received a 2006 Diversity Research Grant Award.
The grant provides $2,500 to study differences in research techniques between native English speakers and English language learners. Half of the 74 students will be observed at each college. Of those tested, one-third will be native English speakers.
"The American Library Association called twice to congratulate us and say it was a great idea," Rodacker-Borgens says. One reason is because of the effect international students have on the United States economy. According to a 2005 Open Doors economic survey, international students contribute $13.5 billion to the U.S. every year, and U.S. higher education is ranked as one of the five largest service sector exports by the U.S. Department of Commerce. However Rodacker-Borgens says there hasn't been much research into the difference of perceptions and learning styles of this audience for at least 10 years. "Most mainstream institutions aren't doing anything about internationals," Rodacker-Borgens says. "We really need to be tailoring our services to reach them more."
Martin and Rodacker-Borgens began exploring the idea for an international student comparison research project last spring. By April, they had applied for the grant and in June their proposal was accepted. "I have a drive for scholarship," Rodacker-Borgens says. "I'm kind of a fireball in that respect."
The information gathered from the project will be presented at the Charting Courses program at the American Library Association's 2007 Annual Conference.