We know now that strong information literacy skills are very important in both the academic and work environments. In a new study published in College & Research Libraries, Victoria Raish and Emily Rimlaud seek, through a nation-wide survey of employers, to find out employers’ perceptions of critical information skills and their potential acceptance of a new technological measure of student skills, called digital badges.
Digital badges, as described by the authors, are a digital representation of an ability gained that “certifies skills at a more granular level.” The authors argue that this method of representing accumulated knowledge of various literacy skills could prevent the uneven nature of “one-shot” instruction provided by professors or librarians by establishing core competencies and identifying gaps.
The survey asked participants to rate a variety of critical information literacy skills from the employer perspective. It was found that three sets of skills had a statistically significant difference from the others, and were thus deemed the most important to employers. These were innovation, critical thinking and using quality information, and collaboration. In addition to this, nearly a quarter (24%) of employers indicated that grades and GPA do not correlate with preparedness for the workplace.
Universities and academic libraries in particular need to ensure that their information literacy curriculum at least closely matches the most common expectations students will meet when entering the workforce. This survey indicates some important areas of emphasis, as well as the potential that digital badges might offer for student success. Over one-third (33%) of participants said that digital badges would definitely be useful when evaluating applicants, and nearly the whole remainder (62%) said they might be useful, but needed to learn more. However these skills are represented, every indicator suggests that information literacy instruction needs to become a core function of higher education, not peripheral training.
To learn more about the survey, current findings about information literacy instruction in higher education, and how digital badges can serve as a new measure for student skill, interest, and ability, read the study in full here.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.