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Information literacy at work : perceptions of information literacy skills by employers and students in the UBC Arts Co-op Mitchell, Julie

Abstract

Despite acknowledgement by scholars that information literacy skills are essential for success in today's workplace, studies in the area are still relatively rare. Furthermore, research in this field indicates that, although employers value information literate employees, the specific skills that define the term are not well recognized in the workplace setting. This study examines perceptions about the importance of information literacy skills in the workplace with a sample population of students and employers in the UBC Arts Co-op Program. The Arts Co-op program provides the opportunity for students to alternate between work and study, integrating multiple full-time, four-month work terms with their university degree. Three surveys were conducted for this study: a longitudinal survey of students (one survey before they entered the work term and another as they finished the work term) and a survey of employers mid-way through the students' work term. The study determined that, overall, Arts Co-op students are meeting employer expectations with respect to information literacy skills. Findings also indicated that students' perceptions of the importance of information literacy skills changed very little during the course of their work terms and that students and employers, while ranking the same set of skills as important, differed significantly in terms of the level of importance they assigned to each skill. Other findings include a list of the common duties involved in these work placements, the specific skill areas students wish to improve, and student strengths from the employer perspective. In addition to the implications this study has for the UBC Arts Co-op program and university librarians and faculty, it also provides a valuable contribution to the formative body of research that connects information literacy skills to the workplace environment.

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