Today, more students in the US are attending university than ever before. An unprecedented number of these students were born digital—meaning digital technologies have been a constant feature in their lives. For these young adults, information literacy competencies are always being formed, practiced, and learned. Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a series of ongoing quantitative and qualitative research studies in the US that investigates what it is like to be a university student in the digital age. This research study has investigated how students find information and conduct research—in their words and through their experiences—for coursework, use in their everyday lives, and, once they graduate, in the workplace and their communities. Since 2008, more than 11,000 university students at nearly 60 US higher education institutions have been surveyed or interviewed, making PIL the largest study of information literacy ever conducted. Results from PIL’s studies have concluded students’ information competencies are put to the test in the vast information landscape they inhabit. Furthermore, finding and using information is exponentially more complex than it was a generation ago, especially since the information landscape has shifted from one of scarce resources to one of overload. In this keynote, five research takeaways were presented from PIL’s eight studies: (1) Students find research more difficult than ever before, (2) getting started is the hardest part of research, (3) frustrations begin with finding context, i.e., big picture, information-gathering, language, and situational context, (4) search strategies are based on predictability, familiarity, and efficiency, and (5) evaluation is the one information skills most learn to use. Discussion included implications of these findings for teaching, learning, work, and librarianship in the 21st century.
Copyright (c) 2016 Alison J. Head
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