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Research Conversation: Modeling Students' Information Practices

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Monday, January 27, 2014
12 - 1:30 p.m.
MGH 420

Alison Head, Director, Project Information Literacy, presents a working typology of the undergraduate information-seeking process

How do today's students find information and conduct research for coursework and use in their everyday lives? Since 2008, more than 11,000 college students at nearly 60 US colleges and universities have been surveyed and interviewed as part of Project Information Literacy (PIL). PIL findings indicate a large majority of students still attend college to learn, but many are lost in a thicket of information overload. Nearly all students intentionally use a small compass for navigating the ever-widening and complex information landscape they inhabit. They struggle with managing the IT devices that permeate their lives and endlessly distract them. Most students turn to professors, friends, family members - or no one at all - for help with research, rather than asking librarians. What’s a librarian to do?

At this Research Conversation, an information-seeking model is introduced, key research takeaways are presented, and a discussion is included of implications for teaching, learning, work, and librarianship in the 21st century.

Alison Head is a Research Scientist in the Information School and a Faculty Associate at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She directs Project Information Literacy (PIL), a national research study about college students and their research practices in the digital age for fulfilling course research and solving information problems in their everyday lives. The ongoing research study was founded by Head and Mike Eisenberg in 2008. She has a Ph.D. (1990) from U.C. Berkeley's School of Library and Information Studies (1990) and was a Visiting Scholar in Symbolic Systems at Stanford University (1996-1997).

Contact:  Ann Corboy,, 206-543-6829
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