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A recent PIL report on workplace readiness

Information literacy is an important component in a set of critical thinking skills. Or, do we all agree that information literacy is a ‘prerequisite’ in critical thinking skills?

Back in April 2012, LILAC and Gale co-sponsored an event at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The theme was ‘Workplace Readiness: Gaps in critical thinking skills of early career professionals’. (Check Amrita Dhawan’s posting on this blog on March 27 and on April 17, 2012 for a description of the event.)

A newly released research report coincides LILAC’s April event “Workplace Readiness”.

Founded in 2008 at University of Washington, Project Information Literacy (PIL) carries its mission that is to conduct ‘ongoing, large-scale research about early adults and their research habits.’< http://projectinfolit.org/about/> The organization investigates issues on college student, especially freshmen, to see how they adjust from high school environment to the college information landscape.  Now, PIL moves a step further with its current report: How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace. The report is written by Dr. Alison J. Head, Director of PIL and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Harvard Library Innovation Lab.

The PIL report is based on interviews with 23 employers and 33 recent graduates in the U.S. Among findings, I found the lack of social skills to be prominent and profound. Our current IL practice is usually focused on college course work in the form of classroom learning while students’ life after graduation is less of a concern.  Students acquire knowledge and get information from their professors. When they joined the workforce, however, they are on their own. No teachers, no mentors, no professor to teach them how to find/filter/sort/synthesize/utilize information when their boss wants; traditional Google search won’t do the trick; and there is a deadline. The people they can turn to now are colleagues but the new grads don’t know how and when to ask. Apparently, a set of social skills is necessary, to say the least. We are aware that campus mentality is different from real world in the form of workplace; hence we shall teach students surviving skills for their future. How do we teach this set of skills and integrate the content into the current IL curriculum is an open question. After all, the mission of information literacy programs is to create lifelong learners. Another notable finding is that new college graduates are not ready for corporate’s deadline pressure because they are so used to casual schedule in college. It gives us something to think about.

1) Watch the preview/summary of the report: <http://youtu.be/5gOtjexhyvE>

2) The full report is available at <http://projectinfolit.org/pdfs/PIL_fall2012_workplaceStudy_FullReport.pdf>

3) Read Barbara Fister’s comments on the report (posted on Inside Higher Ed)  <http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/library-babel-fish/project-information-literacy-inventing-workplace>

About Di Su

Librarian at York College Library.
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