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Project SAILS (Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) is launching the beta test of an international version of the SAILS cohort assessment.

We are very excited to reach this stage. Working with librarians from various countries, we have made extensive revisions to the assessment so as to meet the needs of an international audience. In order to determine if the new test is valid, we are seeking testing institutions in countries outside the United States. If you or someone you know is interested, please go to this web page for details:

There is no cost to participate. We are asking you to commit to getting 100 students as test-takers. If you have at least 50 students take the test, you will receive a report about their performance as a group.

Please let us know if you have any questions. We can be reached at


In my last post I highlighted studies about teachers and students by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Now I want to take a moment to talk about the Project in general. In their own words, "the Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.

As a librarian, I find that nearly all the Project's reports on Internet use help me understand my community. What percentage of adults in the U.S. have a smartphone? How many adults have used a mobile device to access a library's web site? for what purposes? How do people use the Internet and mobile apps for information about health issues and caregiving? How do perceptions of online courses differ between college presidents and the general public?

Many Project reports are covered by the media, but if you want to stay informed in a more systematic fashion, you can sign up for email alerts. (As a side note, the  Pew Internet and American Life Project has the best email signup tool I've ever used. Lots of flexibility, super easy to use.)


What percentage of adults in the U.S. have a smartphone?  56%
Smartphone Ownership 2013

How many adults have used a mobile device to access a library's web site? 13%
Mobile Connections to Libraries

How do people use the Internet and apps for information about health issues and caregiving?
Health Reports

How do perceptions of online courses differ between college presidents and the general public?
"Just three-in-ten American adults (29%) say a course taken online provides an equal educational value to one taken in a classroom. By contrast, about half of college presidents (51%) say online courses provide the same value."
College Presidents



A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project tells us that digital technologies are encouraging teenage students to write more creatively and to write more often. The study of middle and high school teachers focuses on the teachers’ perceptions of how student writing is affected by the Internet, search engines, social media, cell phones, and texting (what they call “digital technologies”).

The researchers found that teachers see these technologies as:

“generally facilitating teens’ personal expression and creativity, broadening the audience for their written material, and encouraging teens to write more often in more formats than may have been the case in prior generations.  At the same time, they describe the unique challenges of teaching writing in the digital age, including the “creep” of informal style into formal writing assignments and the need to better educate students about issues such as plagiarism and fair use.”

This report is the third in a series of three studies on middle and high school teachers:

How Teens Do Research in the Digital World (November 2012)

How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms (February 2013)

The Impact of Digital Tools on Student Writing and How Writing is Taught in Schools (July 2013)

I find these reports fascinating and informative. They fascinate me because they offer glimpses into a world (secondary education) I know little about but that directly affects my work as an information literacy librarian at a university. The reports are informative about both my future students and, I suspect, my current students, assuming that the ways that high school students and college students use digital technologies are more similar than different. The reports generate a fistful of ideas for follow-up: How would professors at my university answer the questions posed to teachers in the most current study? Are the students at my school similar in key demographics to the study sample? Do the people running the Writing Center on my campus read these reports? Do the findings resonate with them? Should we collaborate to build on the positives and address the concerns from the findings?






I recently attended a great presentation by April Cunningham and Hal Hannon on college reading and library instruction. It was part of the 3rd Annual Summer Retreat for Librarians, held at Chapman University in Orange, CA.

April and Hal link Carol Kuhlthau’s work on information search process with what we know about college students’ struggles to learn from academic texts, including scholarly journal articles. They developed or adapted three informative and thought-provoking models as a result. One illustrates the reading cycle during the reading process. Another is titled “Your Research Pathway,” and is designed to show students how to think about the steps of their project based on where they are in the information search process. The third model is another worksheet for students, this time focusing on unpacking academic texts in the sciences/social sciences and the humanities.

April and Hal have a web site with their presentation and models: It's well worth a look.

Thanks to everyone who registered during the month of April to be entered into our drawing for one free SAILS test administration! The winning institution, represented by two librarians, is:

Texas Tech University 

Sheila Hoover, Associate Dean and Laura Heinz, Head of Research, Instruction & Outreach

Congratulations to Sheila and Laura and thanks again to all of those who registered in April!

Though you may not have been selected for the free test administration, we hope you consider using our information literacy assessment at your institution in the future. We would be happy to talk with you about how the SAILS tests can help your information literacy program. And if you have any questions about setting-up a test administration, please feel free to contact us.