What Today’s College Students Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age


A report of preliminary findings and analysis from student discussion groups held on 7 U.S. campuses in Fall 2008, as part of Project Information Literacy. Qualitative data from discussions with higher education students across the country suggest that conducting research is particularly challenging. Students' greatest challenges are related to their perceived inability to find desired materials. Students seek "contexts" as part of the research process. A preliminary typology of the research contexts is developed and introduced. Finding contexts for "backgrounding" topics and for figuring out how to traverse complex information landscapes may be the most difficult part of the research process. Our findings also suggest that students create effective methods for conducting research by using traditional methods, such as libraries, and self-taught, creative workarounds, such as "presearch" and Wikipedia, in different ways.

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