How Often Do Students Use the Open Web for Research? Here’s What We Found.

This is the fifth of six blog posts, discussing what EasyBib learned from a second round of analysis of our information literacy surveys, which were administered earlier this year. For more information about how you can be the first to know about our findings, click here.

We’re nearing the end of our deep dive into our survey of 1,200 librarians and 10,000 students, and today’s topic is how often students use the Open Web compared to the amazing resources their library offers. I don’t want to look down on Internet searching, but let’s face it: as librarians, you and I know that there are awesome resources at our students’ fingertips that are not used as often as we’d like.

Librarians’ Thoughts on Student Use of Open Web

About 60% of librarians said that, overall, their students use the Open Web very often or all of the time, and when we break it down, that was pretty uniform across all kinds of libraries. The only places where there was any kind of differences in opinion were the district librarians and the librarians who work at two-year community colleges.

Thomas Leuthard, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Thomas Leuthard, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

District librarians stood out–”only” about 49% see students going to the Internet very often or all of the time. Perhaps, if they’re traveling between schools, they’re seeing a better overall picture than those who work with only one student body.

One may think that academic librarians would have similar “low” percentages in their responses, as they also work with larger student groups across multiple grade levels . . . but that wasn’t quite the case.

Almost 57% of two-year librarians, and 61% of four-year librarians, see that students go to the Internet before library resources first. This very close with how the elementary school, middle school, and high school librarians feel. It was surprising (and somewhat concerning!) to see such a similar level of responses throughout the education space.

Students vs. Librarians

Librarians and students are pretty much in agreement, too–58.7% of students say that they go to Google over anything else. The good news? In 2012, 84% of librarians said that they see students using the Open Web very often or all of the time–an almost 25% drop compared to the average 2014 response of 60%.

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Common Sense Media & EasyBib Team Up for Free PD!

Kelly Mendoza, Common Sense Media

Our first PD session of the month is tomorrow, but we couldn’t wait to announce our second one for September!

We are thrilled to welcome Kelly Mendoza from Common Sense Media as our latest presenter for our free professional development series. Common Sense Media provides invaluable technology and media resources for teachers, librarians, and parents.

This PD session will cover five important skills that educators can use to discover digital tools for learning, including investigating high quality apps and websites, evaluating the learning potential of said tools, and curating them into powerful collections.

Five Skills To Help You Discover, Use, and Share Great Digital Tools for Learning

Monday, September 22 @ 1 PM EDT


This is an interactive, hands-on session, and will benefit all educators interested in discovering, leveraging, and applying technology into their classrooms. We hope to “see” you there!

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Our PD Series Returns Next Week! What’s Planned?

Doug Silver, WriterKEY

Doug Silver, WriterKEY

We’re back for another great month of free professional development. Join us next week as we kick off the new school year with a writing-focused session with Doug Silver, Chief Academic Officer and Co-Founder of WriterKEY.

With an increased emphasis on writing skills due to Common Core and other institutional- and state-based standards, providing feedback to student writers is as important as ever. How can you help students improve their writing effectively? Doug, a former teacher and administrator, will discuss the latest best practices for providing instructional feedback to students.

Responding to Student Writers

Wednesday, September 17 @ 2 PM EDT


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Information Synthesis & Organization: How Do Students Fare?

This is the fourth of six blog posts, discussing what we learned from a second round of analysis of our information literacy surveys. For more information about how you can be the first to know about our findings, click here.

Information synthesis and organization is a challenging yet critical step in the research and writing process. Forming connections across different types of sources and creating a fluid structure can be tricky for students, and we wanted to see how confident librarians were in their students’ abilities to do so.

Writing Outline

What did our survey say about organizing research?

In 2012, two-thirds of all librarians reported that their students struggle very often with organizing their research and ideas. With our 2014 survey, however, we saw a sharp drop in this category—by almost 25%! As a result, there was ample growth with librarians who said their students struggle “moderately often” category; it jumped 33%, up to 57%. This shows an overall improvement with students’ abilities to organize their research.

What about the specific groups of librarians? We found some interesting results.

Elementary and middle school librarians reported the exact same results: 40% saying their students struggle very often, 56% saying moderately often, and 4% rarely.

High school librarians reported a marginally lower percentage of students struggling very often with organizing their thoughts and ideas (37%). Perhaps because the librarians in the lower schools are working hard to instill these skills in students, when they reach high school, they are slightly more prepared for high school research and writing assignments.


Transitioning from High School to College

However, when high schoolers make the transition from high school to college, there was a noticeable increase (17%) in students who struggle very often with organizing and synthesizing research. The struggles that students face when transitioning from high school to college is well-reported, and this is only bolstered by these statistics.

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