Latest Research

What are the lifelong learning practices of recent grads once they finish college? During 2013-2015, the PIL research team interviewed and surveyed 1,651 grads from 10 US colleges and universities. Read the PIL 2016 research report (112 pages). Take a peek at our findings infographic, tune into a findings video (2:58 minutes), or read the Inside Higher Ed column.

"Staying Smart: How Today's Graduates Continue Learning Once They Complete College," Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy Research Report, January 5, 2016 (112 pages, 6.9 MB, PDF).

Abstract:This report presents findings about the information-seeking behavior of relatively recent college graduates used for lifelong learning in personal life, the workplace, and the local communities where they lived. Included are results from online surveys of 1,651 respondents and telephone interviews with 126 study participants who graduated from one of 10 US colleges and universities between 2007 and 2012. Findings indicated that most graduates needed to learn a combination of basic and complex life skills during the past year, such as money-management, how to make household repairs, and how to advance in their careers and communicate better on the job. They consulted friends, family, and coworkers almost as much as the Web. Graduates preferred information sources that had currency, utility, and interactivity. They also placed a high premium on curated information systems that were organized and kept up-to-date, such as libraries, museums, and bookstores. A model of shared utility is introduced for explaining graduates’ use of contemporary social media technologies as well as personal connections they had established with trusted allies. Graduates reported four barriers to their continued learning efforts: lack of time, finding affordable learning sources, staying on top of everything they needed to know, and staying motivated to keep learning after college. As a whole, graduates prided themselves on their ability to search, evaluate, and present information, skills they honed during college. Yet, far fewer said that their college experience had helped them develop the critical thinking skill of framing and asking questions of their own, which is a skill they inevitably needed in their post-college lives. Ten recommendations are presented for improving educational strategies, resources, and services that foster lifelong learning.

Colleges and universities participating in our study are: Belmont University (TN); The Ohio State University; Phoenix College (AZ); Trinity University (TX); University of Central Florida; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; University of North Carolina, Charlotte; University of Redlands (CA); University of Texas, Austin; and The University of Washington. Research has been supported from a National Leadership Grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services (LG-06-13-0186-13).

After College

Looking for a full list of research from PIL?

Visit the Publications page for a complete list of research reports as well as peer-reviewed articles, proceedings, opinion and editorials, podcasts, webcasts, and interviews, and media coverage.