Since 2014, our Learning Commons partners in the DePaul University Career Center have spearheaded a broad review of the ways in which the college experience contributes to students’ ability to connect what they are learning inside and outside the classroom to life skills, career goals, and a positive orientation toward lifelong learning. The Transferable Skills Initiative (TSI) has been designed to help students understand and articulate the ways in which their academic coursework, co-curricular experiences, and other educational opportunities align with a broad range of skills identified by employers of recent graduates as contributing to success in the workplace. The “Transferable Skills Matrix” identifies analytical skills, communication skills, and leadership skills (among others) that may be explored as part of the academic experience, and employed by graduates to clearly articulate how their time at DePaul has prepared them for the workplace and lifelong learning. With information literacy skills such as critical thinking, creativity and innovation, research, and information technology application included in the “matrix,” it is clear that the DePaul University Library plays an important role in our students’ development of “transferable skills” throughout their time on campus. We will begin working more actively in 2017 to integrate information literacy skills into the TSI, and to further articulate the information literacy (and other) skills that students gain through library employment and through our participation in other DePaul initiatives, including the EDGE Program.
Information literacy has recently been described as an integrated set of skills and abilities that “[encompass] the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.” A 2016 study by Project Information Literacy documented how recent college graduates employed the information literacy skills developed in college “for lifelong learning in personal life, the workplace, and the local communities where they lived.” At DePaul, the library instruction program is designed to promote student mastery of a defined set of learning goals and outcomes reflecting the student’s role as both a critical consumer of information as well as a creator of information products. The abilities to strategize, search, evaluate, and engage information resources represent transferable skills relevant both to the workplace and to one’s role as an engaged and informed member of our society. The critical importance of these skills has rarely been highlighted as broadly as it has been over the past several weeks in the national discussion of “fake news.” At DePaul, students may gain information literacy skills through a variety of workshops and engagements with librarians during research consultations, or by being part of almost 450 classes offered each year in partnership with Chicago Quarter, WRD 104, HON 100, and faculty teaching upper-division courses across the curriculum.
Fluency with information technology has also become an important part of the library’s service program, especially since the launch of the Scholar’s Lab in 2013 and our increasing engagement with faculty wishing to integrate digital scholarship tools into their work with students in the library. Our ability to promote the library as a center for the development of transferable skills in information technology will only grow with the completion of the next phase of the Richardson Library renovation in 2017.
As a partner in student learning in the classroom and a hub for student learning in co-curricular spaces, the DePaul University Library will continue contributing to campus efforts to assess and enhance student mastery of transferable skills in information literacy and information technology. We will also continue collaborating with colleagues in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and elsewhere to ensure that our students are able to articulate the value of what they have learned at DePaul and how it will help them to make the transition from student life. If you have any questions about the Library Instruction Program or how your librarian can help you to clearly identify transferable information literacy skills in your courses, please contact Heather Jagman, Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement, or your liaison librarian.