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Preliminary Report from Project Information Literacy

Ever wonder what the difference is between today’s typical college student and those of us who attended college before the Internet became the preminent tool for information delivery?
Finding Context: What Today’s College Students Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age is a preliminary report by Project Information Literacy on their findings from discussions with students on seven college campuses during Fall 2008.

The impetus for this research was to find out how college students “function in the digital age��?. Discussion groups focused on students’ experience with research and their strategies for completing research projects. An important finding is that research has become more difficult for students to conduct.

Two types of research were identified: research that is undertaken because a research paper has been assigned for an academic course, and research that is spurred by incidents associated with students’ every day life such as health and wellness, news, domestic, career and spiritual. Students found the research process more frustrating when engaging in course related research. Their major complaint was an inability to find appropriate resources. However, students also reported frustrations with researching everyday life problems.

The authors, Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg, from the Information School, University of Washington, found that students have difficulty establishing context for both types of research that they regularly engage in. They hope to create a typology that will help faculty and librarians understand exactly where the need for context occurs in students’ research behavior. You can access the preliminary report online at http://www.projectinfolit.org/pdfs/PIL_ProgressReport_2_2009.pdf. More data is currently being collected by Project Information Literacy. Keep your eye out for further developments on this fascinating topic.

Blog post created by Deborah Bernnard