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. To learn more, read PIL's FAQ or a summary of our key research findings.
"Across the Great Divide: How Today's College Students Engage with News": The lead article from the PIL Team in the August 2019 First Monday issue asks: how can college students and young voters be prepared with the information skills they need to assess news quality and credibility of the information found online and in print as the threats of “fake news,” propaganda, and bias multiply and intensify?
"How Students Engage with News": The October 2018 report from our yearlong study of students and their news engagement practices, commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Association of College and Research Libraries, and Harvard Graduate School of Education is available here.
>> Read the press release
>> Watch the findings video (2:35 mins.)
>> Read media coverage of the 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 265+ community colleges, public colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities in the U.S. that have already joined. Read the FAQ about how your institution can join the sample.
Support for PIL research efforts has included:
To mark the 10th anniversary of PIL, we are currently working on a special research report on the future of information literacy among college students in today's fast-moving information environment.
Emerging scholarship from multiple disciplines will be brought together to consider today’s information environment and its most defining feature — the algorithm — the endless lines of opaque coding that make lightening-fast calculations and decisions for, and about, us that affect the course of our everyday lives in both helpful and unhelpful ways.
Qualitative findings from focus groups with 100+ undergraduate students and faculty interviews at eight U.S. college campuses around the country will be included. Recommendations will be provided for better preparing students as information users, sharers, and creators in the coming decade.
This research is being generously supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Harvard Graduate School of Education, ER&L, a leading library conference, and the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina.
> Read a press release about the study
> Read our Algo Study FAQ
IN THE NEWS
"Evidence and authority in the age of algorithms," Barbara Fister, presented at “Teaching Writing in a Post-Truth Era,” University of Notre Dame, August 20, 2019.
"7 things you should know about digital literacies," Trudi Jacobson, Debra Gilchrist, Alison Head, and Joan Lippincott, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, July 29, 2019.
"Breaking news and younger Twitter users: Comparing self-reported motivations to online behavior," Kenneth Joseph and John Wihbey, International Conference on Social Media and Society (SMSociety ’19), ACM, July 19–21, 2019, Toronto, ON.
"How students find, use, and share news: Implications for information literacy instruction," Doreen Bradley and Craig Smith, EBLIP Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, June 17, 2019. (Bradley and Smith, University of Michigan Library, have kindly shared slides from their presentation using PIL news study data about UMich students).
"The truth Is in the network": Barbara Fister and Margy MacMillian, May 2019. PIL's Smart Talk interview with Mike Caulfield, who works to change how we think about and teach online media literacy, and directs the Blended and Networked Learning at Washington State University Vancouver, and the Digital Polarization Initiative (Digipo).
"Alison Head joins Harvard Graduate School of Education and Gutman Library as visiting scholar," May 1, 2019.
"College students as news consumers," Barbara Fister, Information Outlook, March/April 2019, Vol. 23, No. 2: 6-8.
"'I use good sources when it counts for school, but am lazier at home': The critical divide between young adults’ academic and personal news engagement behaviors," Information Literacy Summit, Moraine Community College (IL), (slides from April 5, 2019 presentation). Presenter: Erica DeFrain.
"News digests to the rescue?" Alison Head, Barbara Fister, and Margy MacMillan, Storybench, March 15, 2019.
Upcoming Speaking Events
"Sneak Peek: Early Findings from PIL's Algo Study," Harvard Graduate School of Education, Thursday, November 7, 2 p.m., Askwith Room, Longfellow Hall, Radcliffe Quad. Presenters: Alison Head and Barbara Fister.
"Information Literacy in the Age of Algorithms," ER&L, Austin (TX), Sunday, March 8, 2020. Opening keynote: Barbara Fister.