Last year I read one of the most compelling studies of students. How do students really go about writing a paper? We librarians may think we know, but wouldn't it be an excellent idea to have an anthropologist and some librarians actually spend a year studying students to find out?
This is what the authors of Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester did. From having students map out or take pictures documenting their every move throughout the day, this study provides a much clearer picture of the day in the life of today's college student--how they spend their time, what pressures they face, when they actually start working on homework and how they go about it. One part of the study asks students what they want out of the library, and they even ask the students to map their ideal library floor plan, complete with librarian/barista staff in some cases. What happens when reference librarians work the late night shift? How can librarians work with helicopter parents? This is just a sampling, as there is so much good stuff in this study.
Even though I read this over a year ago, I still use examples from it in many of my presentations. This study offers an excellent picture of today's college student and is well worth your time. The complete text is still available online.