What is PIL?
Project Information Literacy (PIL) is a nonprofit research institute that conducts ongoing, national studies on what it is like being a student in the digital age. We examine how college students find and use information -- their needs, strategies, practices, and workarounds -- for course work and solving information problems that arise in their everyday lives and the workplace. To learn more, read PIL's FAQ or a summary of our key research findings.
The report from our yearlong study of students and their news engagement practices, commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Association of College and Research Libraries, is available here.
Media coverage about the news study:
PIL AT A GLANCE
Director: Dr. Alison J. Head
Purpose: PIL is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit institute that conducts ongoing, scholarly research about how young adults conceptualize and carry out information tasks in the digital age.
Volunteer Sample: See the 260+ community colleges, public colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities in the U.S. that have already joined the PIL volunteer sample. Read the FAQ about how your institution can join the sample, too.
Visiting Research Scholar Program: The institutional site for the 2018/19 PIL Visiting Research Scholar Program is the University of Pittsburgh University Library System (ULS).
Support for PIL research efforts has included:
News Engagement Study: A large-scale national study on how young adults consume and engage with news in the "post-truth" era was released by PIL in October. Our open access report, public survey dataset are available at news study page.
Our findings suggest the news diet of young news consumers is both multi-modal and multi-social; news comes from their peers and professors about as much as from social media platforms during a given week. Most students know a free press is essential in a democracy, and, yet, the deep political polarization occurring in this country has made them suspicious of biased reporting.
Some question the proliferation of “fast news” — oversimplified and fragmentary coverage spewed across social media platforms. And, for many, engaging with news has become hard work, requiring students to evaluate everything they hear or read for truth and objectivity, whether it’s from a Facebook post, a conversation with a friend, or a news tweet on their smartphones.
This mixed methods study was conducted in partnership with faculty at Northeastern University and Wellesley College. Our study is sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and with a grant from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the largest division of the American Library Association (ALA).
Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and Northeastern University Libraries and College of Arts, Media and Design (CAMD) contributed support.
>> Read the press release
>> Watch the findings video (2:35 mins.)
The Reading List for Life: We are developing a prototype for an open access web app that lets public library users create and customize reading lists they can use for continued learning.
This project is part of a larger two-year project with PIL, the metaLAB (at) Harvard, and the Open Syllabus Project at Columbia University. Funding has been provided by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Templeton Foundation.
>> Read the recap from our June 2018 Ideathon WEST at Seattle Public Library and our October 2017 Ideathon EAST at METRO in New York City.
"What role does news have in higher education? #LTHE Tweet Chat, no. 131, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. PST (details about tuning in). Presenter: Margy MacMillan.
"When digital meets information literacy: What can we learn from the following research processes of individual students?" Modern Language Association, Chicago, Friday, January 4, 2019, 3:30 p.m. CST. Presenter: Michele Van Hoeck.
"Is the 'Parkland Generation' tuned in? News, authoritarianism, and democracy in the age of factual recession." Albright Institute, Wellesley College, Thursday, January 17, 2019, 10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EST. Presenter: Alison Head.
"Reading blogs to learn: Seeking knowledge from a community of strangers," Margy MacMillan, EdTech Researcher, Education Week, November 20, 2017.
"Why blogs endure: A study of recent college graduates and motivations for blog readership," Alison J. Head, Michele Van Hoeck, and Kirsten Hostetler, First Monday, October 2, 2017, Vol, 22, No. 10.
“Fake news and the next generation,” Dan Cohen and What’s New Podcast: An Exploration New Ideas and Discoveries, Northeastern University, Episode 2, September 6, 2017 (36:50 minutes).
"Posing the million-dollar question: What happens after graduation?" Alison J. Head, Journal of Information Literacy, June 5, 2017, Vol. 11, No. 1: 80-90.