A Survey of the Information Need and Information Seeking Behaviour

A Survey of the Information Need and Information Seeking Behaviour

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1. Background to the study Information is generally useful in many areas and has to do with becoming informed and reducing a users’ level of ignorance and uncertainty. According to Burk and Horton (1988), information can be considered as an external entity with an objective nature, or that which informs or has the potential to inform; or a combination of content or meaning represented by symbols and media or conduit, used or usable in a particular context…

In a highly structured and complex world, the need for information is felt at all levels of the society regardless of an individual’s location, social condition or intellectual achievement. Belkin (1978) says information is that which is capable of transforming image structure. Paisley (1980) also defines information as any stimulus that alters the cognitive structure of a receiver, while Krikelas (1983) refers to it as any stimulus that reduces uncertainty.

Secondary Education is the stage of education following primary school. It is generally the final stage of compulsory education. Depending on the system of education in a particular country, schools for this period may be called secondary schools, high schools, colleges and grammar schools. The means of funding these schools could be free education or fee-paying education. The style of education may be day school, boarding or virtual school which is rarely practiced in Nigeria.

Education has become a crucial facet of national development, especially here in Nigeria where the level of illiteracy, examination malpractices, crimes and unemployment are still very high. This is as a result of the fact that no education system can rise above the quality of teachers. Students obtain information to make them better in life, self-reliant and self-sufficient. They also need some important skills to enable them solve problems. Insufficient access to information can affect students’ performances which may lead to inability to use new teaching technical equipment in laboratory.

This in turn results in the poor performance of students in their various examinations such as West African Senior Examination (WASSCE), National Examination Council (NECO) and Joint Matriculation Examination. The amount of information accessible by students can go a long way in determining his or her performances and success in life issues. According to Heads and Isenberg, students need information for a number of things which cannot be over emphasized such as educational information, e. g. findings about related subjects, information for individuals or someone close to them, purchasing information for a product or a service, work or career information, information on other classical schools, travel and trip planning information, spiritual information, such as finding about different religious beliefs, attitude and performance of students and teachers in other schools, social contacts, e. g. , using social network sites to find others, domestic life, e. g. , checking out a friend or neighbor, information related to what I am asked to do at school, searching for experts of some kind, e. . , medical doctor, etc. This is a situation that is proposed to be common among students everywhere especially at the Lagelu Local government area of Oyo state. In sufficient access to information could lead students to examination malpractices and inexperience in handling of technical, learning and laboratory equipment. The resultant effect could be poor performances in examinations, both internal, that is those composed by their teachers, and external examinations such as WASSCE, Joint Matriculation Examination.

It is therefore essential not only to study the info needs and seeking behaviour of students in Lagelu Local government area of Oyo state, but also to look at how information can be used to effect a change in the learning processes of the students for the benefit of our country. 1. 2 Significance of study This study is aimed at finding out the information needs and seeking behaviour of secondary school students in Oyo State. The role of information in secondary schools education is enormous, some of which are: • To give the students a solid education background • To promote intellectual development of students To support class projects • It assists students to express their thoughts, feelings and need. • It helps in solving problems • It assists in decision making. The information obtained must have meaning so that it can be used in a “dynamic process of being informed” (Kuhlthau). This research work will therefore enable stakeholders in education, i. e. parents, teachers, government etc. , to identify the types of information need by students and also broaden the information search scope of secondary school students. It is also hoped that the finding from this study will serve as catalyst to the government in providing good ICT facilities.

Such as a well-equipped library, laboratory equipment and information centers that will boost the teaching and learning processes. It is believed that the outcome of this study will facilitate the creation of a dynamic school curriculum, that will help students and teachers acquire adequate and current information. This will in turn help them to be self- dependent and enable them in solving life’s problem. 1. 3Research Objectives The broad objective of this study is to examine the information need, information seeking behaviour and uses of information by secondary school students in Lagelu Local Government of Oyo State.

It will also examine the constraints to the effective use of relevant information. The broad objective will be achieved through the following sub-objectives: i) To identify the information needs of secondary school students in the Local government. ii) To identify various information sources available for use by the students to satisfy their information needs. iii) To find out the information sources the students do consult. iv) To identify methods used by students in gaining access to information. v) To find out the constraints faced by students in accessing information sources. i) To identify what students use information for. vii) To make recommendations to the policy makers, that will aid the provision of information services for this group of students. 4. Research Questions This study is aimed at answering the following questions: i) What are the information needs of the students in their quest to attain academic heights or achieve their goal? ii) What are the information sources available to students? iii) What methods do students use to gain access to needed information? iv) What are the constraints to the access of these information sources? ) What do students use information for? 5. Justification of the study The performances of secondary school students in major examinations such as West African Senior Examination (WASSCE), National Examination Council (NECO) and Joint Matriculation Examination to mention a few, in the recent years has been of poor recommendation. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched. Some are listed below: i) Difficulties in searching for and finding the right and useful information by students. ii) Inefficiency and Ineffectiveness of Learning and teaching activities. ii) Inability of the available information sources such as information centres and libraries to meet the information needs of the student. iv) Lots of distraction such as internet, workers strike, Fuel scarcity, low or delayed payment of teachers’ salary. v) Lack of good infrastructural facilities such as classroom blocks, lecture halls, etc. , vi) Poor power supply vii) Movies, internet and lots more. A lot of studies have been conducted to determine how other people such as medical professional, students in higher institutions of learning, secondary school teachers, etc. have access to information, but far less has been done for secondary school students. It is believed that this survey will bridge the gap and contribute to the fields of information science. The knowledge about the information need and seeking behaviour of secondary school students will enable information scientist to provide adequate services to the student. Since appropriate information materials and sources consulted by the students when searching for their needed information would be known. Thus, the students are assisted in spending less time when seeking for pertinent information in relating to their study level. 1. Scope of the study This study will be restricted to only ten selected secondary schools in Lagelu Local Government area of Oyo State. This is because students in these schools share the same characteristics; hence, including other schools in the Local government will not make a significant difference from others. However, the ten selected schools will comprise of seven public schools and three private schools. 6. Definition of key terms 1. Information: data and information are interrelated. Data can be defined as the collection of facts, figures, ideas, symbols, etc. A data becomes information when meaning is attached to it.

Hence, information is said to be processed data. 1. Need: a gap between a persons present level and the preferred or required level of capabilities for effective performance as defined by the person, organization or society. It is also a condition or situation in which something is required or wanted 2. Information Need: it is the knowledge gap in the current knowledge of the information user. It refers to the information that the user ought to have, that will be of benefit to the user. . 3. Information Source: this is the medium or means through which potentially information messages are sent or received by the user. Tiamiyu, 1990) which could be persons, document or place. 4. Information seeking: is the process or activity of attempting to obtain information in both human and technological contexts in order to satisfy a need. 5. Information behaviour: Taylor(1991) defined information behaviour as the product of a certain elements of the information use environment. 6. Information use: is a dynamic, interactive, social process of inquiring that may result in making of meaning and decision. It can also be referred to as a behavioural outcome from interaction with either personal or non-personal information sources. 7.

Public schools: are schools owned by the government i. e. state or federal. 8. Private schools: are schools owned by individuals or a group of people. CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW 2. 1Introduction The study of information need and information seeking behaviour of people have been carried out in a number of survey, its availability in literatures makes it evident. The evidences point out to the controversies the concept has generated over the relevance and use of information. Many researchers have made important contributions to the field of information seeking behaviour, such as Kuhlthau, Eisenberg and Berkwits and Marchionini.

The study of information seeking behaviour can be dated back to the late 1940’s. Since that time, a large number of studies have been carried out on students’ information needs and behaviour. A great deal has been written about information-seeking behavior in general, and particularly in recent years, about using electronic resources to access information. It is only in the last decade and a half, however, that researchers have begun to focus on the information-seeking behaviors of children and students. This chapter reviews the previous studies that share the same characteristics with this proposed study.

It integrates the various research findings from different related fields such as User studies, information need and information seeking behaviour of secondary school students. 2. Need for User Studies User studies is view by information scientists as a way of ensuring effective information services for the satisfaction of user needs (Oyo, 2000). Mbofung (1997) is of the opinion that for information to be fully and adequately utilized by the right user, it is essential to know in details about the users and their need for information and how well the user’s source of information can be improved.

According to Anthony (1975), he observed that user behavioural pattern should be studied for effective information transfer. Conducting user studies helps to identify and meet the need of different categories of users. Some specific related characteristics that have been measure in various studies include: frequency of information use, reason for use, types of information use, awareness of information services, personalities, and Life style. The following are some of the methods employed in user studies. These are: data collection through the use of questionnaire, interview and observations, focused group discussion, etc.

Some concepts that come to play in most of the users’ studies carried out by researchers are: Information, Information need, information source and information seeking behaviour. These concepts cannot be well discussed in isolation of the other. Hence, they are seen as inter-related. The interrelationship among the areas of users’ studies is shown in Wilson’s (1981) model. Borks (1986) also believes that information is growing very fast, thereby, becoming increasingly difficult to keep pace with it, hence the need for user studies. 2. 3Information

The word data and information are inter-related. A data becomes information when meaning is attached to it through interpretation. For example, a set of population figure is data, when it is analysed in terms of increase or decrease over a period of time, it becomes information. It is both a product and a process which is embodied in artefacts or information sources such as books, journals, radio and television programs, etc. Information can be defined as all forms of data and knowledge generated, represented, stored and communicated in various formats and media.

Saracevic(1999) observed that in order to understand “Information”, we can look at three different perspectives in which it is often used: 1. The narrow sense, in which information is considered in terms of signals or messages for decisions involving little or no cognitive processing. 2. The broader sense, in which information is treated as directly involving cognitive processing and understanding, resulting from the interaction of two cognitive structures-a (human) mind and messages that might be broadly described as “text”; and 3.

The broadest sense, in which information is defined in the context of a specific task, problem or situation. The broadest sense perceives information as the end product of the interaction among incoming messages, a human mind, and a problem context, the latter of which serves as the motivator for the processing of the messages to derive information. Farradane (1979) also identified two other representations of information: 1. Information based on the assumed mental state of a recipient to which are applied such properties as “novelty”, “an increment in knowledge”, “interpretation of external stimuli”, etc. and 2. Information as a holistic concept involving people, their needs and attitudes, and the effects of information on decision-making and social behaviour. 2. 4Information need Information need is an individual or group’s desire to locate and obtain information to satisfy a conscious or unconscious need. ‘Information’ and ‘need’ in ‘information need’ are inseparably interconnected. Information needs are related to, but distinct from information requirements. It is the fact or an instance of feeling the lack of something, an example is that a need is hunger, the requirement is food.

In spite of the difficulties with the concept, various categories of information need have been produced. For example, Weigts, et al. (1993) suggest the following categories: i) need for new information; ii) need to elucidate the information held; and iii) need to confirm information held. Note, however, that the focus of these types is cognitive need and, given the significance of beliefs and values, we need to add: iv) need to elucidate beliefs and values held, and v) need to confirm beliefs and values held. According to Taylor, information need has four levels: . The conscious and unconscious need for information not existing in the remembered experience of the investigator. In terms of the query range, this level might be called the “ideal question” — the question which would bring from the ideal system exactly what the inquirer, if he could state his need. It is the actual, but unexpressed, need for information 2. The conscious mental description of an ill-defined area of in decision. In this level, the inquirer might talk to someone else in the field to get an answer. 3. A researcher forms a rational statement of his question.

This statement is a rational and unambiguous description of the inquirer’s doubts. 4. The question as presented to the information system. There is possibly a more basic confusion in the association of the two words ‘information’ and ‘need’. This association imbues the resulting concept with connotations of a basic ‘need’ qualitatively similar to other basic ‘human needs’. However, by examining the literature on human needs it is found that this concept is divided by psychologists Eysenck et al. (1972) into three categories: (i) Physiological needs, such as the need for food, water, shelter, etc. (ii) Affective needs (sometimes called psychological or emotional needs) such as need for attainment, for domination, etc. ; (iii) Cognitive needs, such as the need to plan, to learn a skill, etc. It will be quickly recognized that these three categories are interrelated: physiological needs may trigger affective and/or cognitive needs; affective needs may give rise to cognitive needs; and problems relating to the satisfaction of cognitive needs (such as a failure to satisfy needs, or fear of disclosing needs) may result in affective needs (for example, for reassurance).

According to Belkin (1980), an Anomalous State of Knowledge (ASK) is one in which the searcher recognises a gap in the state of knowledge. Information need can be seen or perceived in different ways. 2. 5 Information Sources Information Sources provide relevant and accurate information that helps the user to increase their understanding of a problem. According to Aiyepeku (1989), information sources can be divided into formal and informal sources. He explained that the formal sources could also provide “hard and soft” information.

The information generated by researchers and subjects specialists could be called hard information. Information could be in reference materials, books, technical reports, journals, and so on. Soft information on the other hand is information got through efforts of mass media communications and journal. They are mostly recorded in the print or electronic form. Informal sources on the other hand are those whose sources are not formally documented. Examples of informal sources are from email, grey-literature, seminars, workshops, lectures, conferences and personal conversations. It includes sounds, signals rumours, etc.

Tiamiyu (1993) noted that certain objective characteristics of information sources can be used to explain the use or non-use of such sources. First is the subject content of the information provided by a source relative to it. The second is the structural linguistic format in which an item of information is presented can influence the use of such information as some information sources may be used more often than others because of the brevity with which they provide accurate information. Information sources exhibit different attributes that make them desired or avoided by students.

Books and newspapers for instance can serve as a quick source of information for students. Colleagues or superiors also constitute veritable sources of scientific information to workers. These sources have the advantages of reliability, availability and relative ease of accessibility and they provide information that could be readily used without much further processing. Opinions can also be sought from friends through emails or social networking sites, or from strangers through discussion forums. Similar to the model proposed by Wilson and Krieklas, information sources include human resources, information resources and other resources.

Studies have shown that digital resources, video-clips, audio, simulations and images improve student learning in science and mathematics, and the emergence of online digital libraries has made more free resources available than ever before. Most school libraries have the instructional resources, digital tools and space to support this type of learning; but few school librarians and students have the skills and awareness to take the quality science, engineering, technology and mathematics related materials available free on the internet and make it available for teachers to integrate into their curricular.

There are many sources of information to students. Some of which are colleagues or superiors, newspapers, books and monographs, internet, books of abstract, subject specialists or authors indexes to mention but a few. 2. 6Information seeking behaviour Information need is a term closely related to the concept of information seeking behaviour. A user recognising an information need, articulates it into a question, or, request which is conveyed through formal or/and informal channels of communication and information systems, in order to receive a response (verbal written, visual) which will satisfy that need.

The decisions concerning which communication channels and information systems will be used, as well as in which way and how they constitute the information seeking behaviour of a user. A variety of theories of information behavior e. g. Zipf’s Principle of Least Effort, Brenda Dervin’s Sense Making and Elfreda Chatman’s Life in the Round seek to understand the processes that surround information seeking. A review of the literature on information seeking behavior shows that information seeking has generally been accepted as dynamic and non-linear (Foster, 2005; Kuhlthau 2006).

People experience the information search process as an interplay of thoughts, feelings and actions (Kuhlthau, 2006). Information seeking has been found to be linked to a variety of interpersonal communication behaviors beyond question-asking, to include strategies such as candidate answers, etc. Menzel (1966) also investigated user study and defined information seeking behaviour from three angles: 1. When approached from the point of view of the scientist or technologists, these are studies of scientists’ communication behaviour; 2. When approached from the point of view of any communication medium, they use studies; 3.

When approached from the science communication system, they are studies in the flow of information among scientists and technologists. Some of the variables affecting information seeking behaviour of users according to UNESCO (1974) are: (i) Working habit of the individual in need of the information; (ii) the importance placed on getting the information; (iii) the facility available for seeking the information; and (iv) the judgement of their value. Paisley (1968) explained that the information needs, seeking behaviour and uses are strongly affected by: i) the totality of information sources available, (ii) educational background and motivation of users, (iii) the use to which the information will be put, (iv) professional orientation and individual characteristics, and (v) the social, political and economic importance attached to the work. According to Wilson(2000), information seeking behaviour include those activities a person may engage in when identifying their own needs for information, searching for such information in any way, and using or transferring that information.

While many researchers have made important contributions to the field of the information need and information seeking behaviour of secondary school students, we highlight the contributions of Kuhlthaul has been relevant to the context of this study. His model presents the process as being shaped by thee realms of behaviour namely: affective (feelings), cognitive (thoughts), and physical (actions and strategies).

Hence it can be inferred that the information search process involves more than sheer rigid technicalities of finding information, and that the incomplete involvement of the searcher (feelings, thoughts and opinions) can be sought from friends through emails or social networking sites or from strangers through discussion forums. The full range of human, personal needs is at the root of motivation towards information-seeking behaviour, it must also be recognized that these needs arise out of the roles an individual fills in social life.

In 2000, Wilson described information seeking behaviour as the totality of human behaviour in relation to sources and channels of information, including both active and passive information-seeking, and information use. 2. 6. 1Information Seeking Behaviour of secondary school students Both Hirsh (1999) and Lorenzen (2001) confirmed that school students sought assistance from their teachers, librarians, and peers. In the United Kingdom, Madden, Ford, and Miller (2007) iterated that students used other people, including relatives and peers, as an information source.

However, as students grew older, especially in the final critical years of their schooling, when their needs became increasingly specialized, this reliance upon other people declined. At that stage, the students’ use of books and electronic sources increased, although they continued to consult their teachers. When considering information seeking strategies, students consider various criteria when selecting the information source, including accuracy, reliability and ease of use, availability, comprehensibility, and authority.

The advent of the electronic age has brought with it major changes in the ways in which information is being sought and used, including use by secondary school students. Research has noticed that students who preferred books thought they were easier to manage, provided depth of information, and were more reliable. Even here, the Internet was not far from the thoughts of those who still claimed to prefer the book. Some information seeking behavior may require only one strategy such as using the schools’ library. When all the needed information is found, which results in satisfaction of the user’s information need, the search process is ended.

Some information seeking behavior may require many strategies with the user calling upon a variety of information sources because the information need is not thoroughly satisfied. The information seeking process ends when the perceived need has been satisfied. 2. 6. 2Attitudes of Secondary school students to Information Seeking Students gave a number of reasons why they liked the Internet, with the main ones being the range and quantity of information available; the ease and speed of access, including its accessibility from home; and the access to up-to-date information. The study by Fidel et al. 1999), suggested that in spite of students’ belief in the ease of Internet use, they were unskilled and often unable to find the information they needed. Chen (2003) analysed the literature investigating particular search problems and identified many difficulties experienced by students, such as the concept of keywords, search strategy, browsing strategy, and rapid surfing. Valenza (2006) explored similar and more recent literature to conclude that students still struggle to find what they need. As Agosto (2002) found, time constraints also loomed large as a reason why students plagiarise.

The issue of information or cognitive overload also emerged in various ways. 2. 7Information seeking models It is important to examine information seeking models as what students actually do when searching for information may be very different from what librarians think the students do. A popular model during the 1980’s illustrates the relationships between the concepts of user, need, uses and user behavior. It is adapted from Wilson’s (1981) figure of Interrelationships among areas in the field of user studies and Krikelas’ (1983) model of Information seeking behavior.

The model suggests that the user perceives a need in the context of the user’s environment. That is, in a given environment or event (e. g. university course) the user will perceive an information need (research a paper). The perceived need will lead the user to search for information, making demands upon a variety of information sources. These information sources include information systems (university libraries and public libraries); human resources (experts, professors, colleagues); and other resources (personal library, media). Information seeking behavior may lead to either a success or a failure.

If a success is made, information located which will be used. This may result in the satisfaction or non-satisfaction of the original perceived need. Satisfaction occurs when the located information has been analyzed and satisfies the original need. Non-satisfaction occurs when the information does not satisfy the original need. With non-satisfaction, the information seeking process may be repeated until satisfaction occurs. A failure to find information may result in the process of information seeking being continued. Krikelas (1983) stated that: Information seeking begins when someone perceives that the current state of knowledge is less than that needed to deal with some issue (or problem). The process ends when that perception no longer exists”. 2. 7. 1Kahlthaul’s Model Kuhlthau (1992) developed a model of the information search process from common patterns which emerged from her longitudinal investigation of high school students’ information seeking behaviors. Kuhlthau’s model is important as it suggests that the user is an active participant in the information search process. The student’s knowledge grows as she interacts with the information.

More importantly, cognitive processes are involved in information seeking. Throughout the process, the student engages in cognitive strategies such as brain storming, contemplating, predicting, consulting, reading, identifying, defining, and confirming. Her model encompasses the development of thoughts about a research topic, the feelings associated with the search process, and the actions of seeking and using sources. The model goes beyond the mere mechanics of information seeking; it incorporates three realms: the affective (feeling), the cognitive (thoughts), and the physical (actions and strategies).

These realms are common to each stage of the search process, as described below. i) initiation or perception of an information need; ii) selection of topic or the approach in obtaining information; iii) exploration of the required information in order to gain better understanding;. iv) formulation of the focused information need; v) collection of relevant information; The user interacts with information systems (e. g. , librarians, experts, friends, etc. ) effectively and efficiently and gathers Information specifically related to the defined focused topic and i) search closure or presentation; the search is to be completed so as to prepare the written document. 2. 7. 2Big Six Skills Model Eisenberg and Berkowitz (1992) proposed the Big Six Skills which represents a general approach to information problem-solving, consisting of six logical steps or stages. Each stage is necessary in order to achieve a successful resolution of an information problem. The Big Six Skills involves: 1. Task Definition: The student needs to define the problem from an information point of view. He needs to define what needs to be done, what information needs to be gathered, etc. rior to embarking on information seeking strategies. By clearly defining and understanding the information problem, students can move more efficiently towards solutions. 2. Information Seeking Strategies: a student he must decide which and what information sources are the most appropriate to solve a particular task once he has clearly defined the problem. Information seeking strategies involve making decisions. In today’s information age, the question students should ask themselves is “What are my best strategies for finding information on this topic? rather than asking “Can I find information on this topic? “. 3. Location and Access: this is the implementation of the information seeking strategy. These skills involve use of access tools such as bibliographic databases and print indexes, arrangement of materials in libraries, parts of a book , etc. 4. Use of Information: Once students have found the needed information, they can employ skills to use the information. These skills involve interacting, dialoguing, and reading, listening, viewing, questioning, and reflecting on the information.

Students need to decide what is valuable and extract the necessary information. 5. Synthesis: Synthesis is the application of all information to the defined task. Synthesis involves restructuring and repackaging the information into a new and different form. It involves turning of the information found into knowledge. 6. Evaluation: Evaluation is the examination and assessment of the information problem solving process. It determines the effectiveness and efficiency of the process. Evaluation determines whether the information found met the defined task.

Specific questions focus on was the information problem solved; was the need met; was the situation resolved. If the answer is no, then the process is re-initiated. Eisenberg and Berkowitz’s Big Six Skills seems to be the model which most closely describes the actual information search process. CHAPTER THREE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3. 1Introduction This chapter will describe the method, general approach and techniques with which the proposed study will be carried out. It will present the research design, the population of study, ample size and sampling techniques and procedures.

The instrument to be used, the way the instrument will be administered, validity and reliability of instrument and the method of analyzing the data to be collected will be described. 3. 2 Research Design A descriptive survey design will be adopted for the study, this will enable the researcher to obtain information from a representative sample of the population in order to describe and evaluate the existing situation. The questionnaire will be the major instrument for collecting relevant data and information from respondents. 3. 3Population of study

The target population for the proposed study is secondary schools in Lagelu Local Government area of Oyo State. 3. 4Sampling Size and Sampling technique According to the data collected from the office of the local inspector of education in Lagelu Local government area of Oyo State, it show that there are thirty-three public and five private registered secondary schools. 3. 5Sampling Procedure The proposed research, having collected the list of all secondary schools in Lagelu Local Government area of Oyo State, will select respondents from selected schools. 3. 6Data collection instrument

A self-constructed questionnaire will be used as the research instrument for collecting data for the proposed study. The sections in it will draw information on demographic variables such as sex, age, level of education, number of years spent in secondary school, schools that have been attended. It will also focus on the information need of secondary school students, inquire about information sources available to them and also look at the information seeking behaviour of these students. The problems encountered by these respondents in seeking for information and the possible solutions will also be considered.

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