UIUC’s Merinda Kaye Hensley Named Senior Fellow in Information Literacy

Merinda Kaye Hensley—Associate Professor, Digital Scholarship Liaison, and Instruction Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—has been named a Senior Fellow in Information Literacy by Project Information Literacy (PIL). Her research and commitment to her work has progressed PIL’s efforts to study the experience of being a student in the digital age.

PIL is a prominent nonprofit research establishment that was founded in 2008. This educational organization critically examines student living in the digital age by focusing on their experiences and perspectives. PIL directs groundbreaking national studies that explore many various types of campuses and students. To collect data from around 21,000 young adults, PIL has traveled to community colleges, state colleges, public and private universities, and even high schools all around the United States. By conducting student interviews and surveys and by examining student activity on social media, they hope to investigate and learn more about how students behave when it comes to seeking information for school, life, and work digitally. To date, the revolutionary institute has published 12 research reports, and they are currently working on a “PIL Provocation Series” that hopes to improve and enhance teaching and learning opportunities for all students, librarians, and educators.

Hensley, a key part in the development of the new “PIL Provocation Series”, has been honored with the title of PIL Senior Fellow in Information Literacy. Hensley is part of the University Library’s own Scholarly Commons team, and she is a distinguished professor for the Illinois iSchool where she teaches “Instructional Strategies and Techniques for Information Professionals” and “Reference and Information Services.” Focusing her notable research on how librarians influence and play a role in teaching undergraduates about the publication process and sharing their work online, Hensley has demonstrated exceptional research skills and has accomplished a tremendous amount.

Hensley remarked, “I am excited to work with the team at Project Information Literacy (PIL) on its upcoming Provocation Series, a new publishing initiative for 2021 that will delve into pressing information literacy and higher education issues, while exploring new ways of thinking and directions for future research. PIL is well-known for their innovative research, and since 2008, more than 21,000 students have participated. The University of Illinois has contributed twice to PIL studies: in 2009, Illinois students contributed to focus groups on how undergraduates conduct research for courses and in their everyday lives and in 2010, faculty participated in a study on research handouts. PIL’s January 2020 research report, “Information literacy in the age of algorithms: Student experiences with news and information, and the need for change,” provides insights into students’ awareness about how algorithms affect their searching, and how they learn from their peers to protect their privacy.”

Read more about PIL and the new “PIL Provocation Series” at https://projectinfolit.org.

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