Bunch Library’s Jenny Mills and the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research are facilitating Belmont’s participation in a national study of how students interact with and consume news and gather information. Project Information Literacy (PIL), a nonprofit research institute, will survey students at 15 universities and high schools across the country, focusing on two of the most pressing issues of what has been called our “post-truth” era: currency and authority. Recently, an email was sent to all full time Belmont undergraduates, and the survey was completed by 900 students.
The report will look to break new ground as an empirical and quantitative study of many issues, such as “fake news” and misinformation, to help better ground public discourse and potential policy solutions. It will also formulate a set of recommendations for professionals directly implicated in addressing relevant problems, offering insights to three groups in particular working with young adults on the front lines: librarians, journalists and educators.
“This study investigates how students find news, and, more importantly, how the news finds them through social media and other channels they might use,” said Dr. Alison J. Head, the director of the new study and an information scientist and a senior researcher at the metaLAB (at) Harvard. “Our research is unique in that it tackles some of the deeper questions about the cognitive habits of young people in this digital-first environment.”
Belmont will receive a research packet of students responses to the survey this summer and results will be shared with campus.