2017 - "Information Literacy (IL) in the academic context: is there a gap between employability competencies and student information literacy skills? " - Saint-Malo, European Conference on Information Literracy, 18-21 septembre 2017

ECIL 2017

Résumé de mon intervention 

Information Literacy (IL) in the academic context: is there a gap between employability competencies and student information literacy skills?

Jean-Philippe Accart, Library and Archives Director - Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
HES-SO // University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland

This paper first presents the information literacy competencies in both public universities and institutions of applied learning in Switzerland. Based on the project “Information Literacy at Swiss Universities” launched in 2011, it shows how the Swiss Standards of Information Literacy were designed and applied. These six standards have since been supplemented by related learning objectives. In the second part, the author will answer the question formulated in the title in order to understand if those standards reflect the reality of the job market and the workplace. In conclusion, he analyses the reasons behind such a gap and proposes several solutions to bridge the gap.

Drawing on case studies, the author discusses the six previously-mentioned standards and their implementation in the Swiss academic context. It appears that most of the time the standards are implemented by librarians and libraries themselves, participating at different levels in the academic program. Professors are involved in this process but to a lesser extent than librarians. The Faculty of Sciences of the University of Geneva is a good example: students in all programmes (e.g., biology, mathematics, pharmaceutical sciences, etc.) receive mandatory training at the beginning of each school year. They take part in onsite training or online tutorials, or sometimes both. In the end, they receive academic credit pursuant to the Bologna Process. The Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, which offers a bachelor’s and master’s programme is cited as a different example. The school operates in another context with different results. In fact, because EHL is more focused on applied sciences, it does not offer the same level than a university degree. It does, however, facilitate access to the job market. EHL is well renowned throughout the world of hospitality management and business in general. During their studies, students need to compare results, numbers and facts found in databases, reports and books offered by the EHL Library. They must analyse the data and write reports and yet their information literacy skills are very poor. How is that possible for future managers? This article discusses these two examples at length and compares both institutions in detail.
Does it mean that there is a gap between what libraries offer in terms of information literacy and information learning and what skills students develop or fail to develop? What are the reasons behind such a gap? Are universities and, more specifically, universities focused on the applied sciences failing in this area? Both recent and older studies show that employees lose considerable time every week searching for information they need in order to solve problems and make decisions. Different reasons explain this waste of time and one of the more compelling is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which afflicts many people nowadays. Another reason is so-called information obesity. However, solutions do exist and information professionals hold the key to opening the door to information literacy. These solutions include the use of artificial intelligence to ease the information onslaught and teach kids or young adults effective search techniques at a very early age.

Keywords: information literacy, student, university, library, case studies, University of Geneva, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne




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