Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age

42 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2013

See all articles by Alison Head

Alison Head

Project Information Literacy; MetaLAB at Harvard

Michael Eisenberg

University of Washington - The Information School

Date Written: December 1, 2009


A report of findings from 2,318 respondents to a survey carried out among college students on six campuses distributed across the U.S. in the spring of 2009, as part of Project Information Literacy. Respondents, while curious in the beginning stages of research, employed a consistent and predictable research strategy for finding information, whether they were conducting course-related or everyday life research. Almost all of the respondents turned to the same set of tried and true information resources in the initial stages of research, regardless of their information goals. Almost all students used course readings and Google first for course-related research and Google and Wikipedia for everyday life research. Most students used library resources, especially scholarly databases for course-related research and far fewer, in comparison, used library services that required interacting with librarians. The findings suggest that students conceptualize research, especially tasks associated with seeking information, as a competency learned by rote, rather than as an opportunity to learn, develop, or expand upon an information-gathering strategy which leverages the wide range of resources available to them in the digital age.

Keywords: college students, information-seeking behavior, information literacy, college readiness, lifelong learning

Suggested Citation

Head, Alison and Eisenberg, Michael, Lessons Learned: How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age (December 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2281478 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2281478

Alison Head (Contact Author)

Project Information Literacy ( email )

4760 Montecito Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA CA 95404
United States
7078007590 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://projectinfolit.org

MetaLAB at Harvard ( email )

23 Everett Street
Cambridge, MA 012138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://alison_head@gse.harvard.edu

Michael Eisenberg

University of Washington - The Information School ( email )

Box 353350
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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