Tuesday, July 08, 2014

College Grads: Skills Gap in Information Competency

Librarians are increasingly focused on instruction and teaching skill sets for using information in their work with college students. Can we go further? Here's a few pertinent quotes from an article reviewing the preparation of college students through interviews with hiring officers at several major companies.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education, available online to students, staff and faculty of Butler Community College:

At Sea in a Deluge of Data
By Alison J. Head and John Wihbey

...Another Project Information Literacy study, involving more than 8,300 undergraduates at 25 American colleges, found that most make do with a very small compass. They rely on tried and true resources such as course readings, library databases, Google, and Wikipedia.

Only 20 percent of the students said they ever sought help from librarians, the mavens of searching and finding in the digital age, especially when it comes to learning how to "ping pong" effectively and strategically among offline sources, experts, and online information, blending the full range of knowledge sources in all their forms.

...While students will always need to think critically and ask the right questions, emerging in this new world is the need for a skill set we call "knowledge in action," a kind of athletics of the mind aided by Internet-enabled devices, search engines, and pools of data from a wide variety of outlets.

...Engaging knowledge at the speed of the web takes three additional things, which tend to be separate in our curricula rather than integrated: a basic understanding of statistics and inference; a sense of the major research institutions—a basic understanding of what it means when you see results attached to URL’s such as "cdc.gov," "imf.org" or "pewresearch.org" and how those institutions produce knowledge; and a sense of how the scientific method works and what it means to test a hypothesis with data.

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