Searching for Context: Modeling the Information-Seeking Process of College Students in the Digital Age
Alison J. Head, Berkman Center & Library Innovation Lab Fellow
Tuesday, January 10, 12:30 pm
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East A, Harvard Law School (Map)
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET and archived on our site shortly after.
What is it like to be a college student in the digital age? In this talk, I present a working typology of the undergraduate information-seeking process, including students’ reliance on and use of Web sources. Since 2008, as part of our ongoing study at the University of Washington’s Project Information Literacy, we have surveyed more than 10,000 students at 40 colleges and universities (including undergraduates enrolled at Harvard College). We have investigated how college students find information and conduct research—their needs, strategies, and workarounds—for solving information problems that occur during course-related research and in their everyday lives. We have found the large majority of students we have studied across all types of higher-education institutions in the U.S. still attend college to learn, but many are lost in a thicket of information overload. They struggle with managing the IT devices that permeate their lives. Our findings indicate that nearly all students intentionally use a small compass for navigating the ever-widening and complex information landscape they inhabit. These and other findings of Project Information Literacy have profound implications for teaching, learning, work, and play in the 21st century.
Alison Head is the lead researcher for the national study, Project Information Literacy. She is a Research Scientist in University of Washington's Information School and a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Library Innovation Lab (2011-2012). Alison led the 2007 exploratory student study, which was a forerunner to Project Information Literacy. The study was conducted at Saint Mary's College of California, where she taught as the Roy O. Disney Visiting Professor in New Media for 10 years. Her research interests include information-seeking behaviors of early adults, information literacy and lifelong learning, Web adoption and diffusion, and usage of social media for collective learning.