Friday, June 1, 2012

Improving Library Research Skills Among First-Generation College Students

Since I took a few library science courses in graduate school, I am a big fan of improving information literacy in higher education. I think this is one area that is often under-appreciated and overlooked among academic and student affairs professionals. From, the University of Illinois-Chicago has been tracking the information literacy skills (in this case, library research) of first-generation college students (freshman vs seniors).
Learning how to use a university library can pose a challenge to first-generation college students. Depending on their educational background, many such students might have little or no experience tackling major research assignments and navigating cavernous university libraries.

In a 2009 study, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that many first-generation students, intimidated by the scale and complexity of the campus library, did their research at their more familiar, but less resourceful, local public libraries during the first year of college. Some librarians were concerned that such habits could arrest the development of students' information literacy -- a skill set that is difficult to cultivate in most college students, let alone first-generation ones.

But an encouraging new study out of Illinois-Chicago suggests that first-generation students do in fact improve their information literacy skills over their college careers.

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