Value to employers?


I have finally had a bit of time to catch up on some new research from Project Information Literacy (PIL) from fall. They have done a preliminary study on the research skills students bring with them to the workplace and what employers think of those skills.

Certainly beyond academic student success it would be fascinating to explore a connection between library use and workplace success.

Here is a selection of major findings from PIL:

  • Employers placed a high premium on graduates' abilities for searching online, finding information with tools other than search engines, and identifying the best solution from all the information they had gathered.
  • Once they joined the workplace, many college hires demonstrated computer know-how that exceeded both the expectations and abilities of many of their employers. Yet we found these proficiencies also obscured the research techniques needed for solving information problems...
  • Most college hires were prone to deliver the quickest answer they could find using a search engine, entering a few keywords, and scanning the first couple of pages of results...
  • Students said they leveraged essential information competencies from college to help them gain an edge and save time at work when solving workplace information problems. Many of them applied techniques for evaluating the quality of content, close reading of texts, and synthesizing large quantities of content, usually found online.
  • Overall, our findings suggest there is a distinct difference between today's graduates who demonstrated how quickly they found answers online and seasoned employers who needed college hires to use a combination of online and traditional methods to conduct comprehensive research.

Complete report:
"Learning Curve: How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Research Report, October 15, 2012.

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