Effectiveness of students‟ information seeking and information management

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Mixed Methods Research

Like the theoretical background of information seeking, the philosophical foundations of mixed method research (MMR) are complex. Although the antecedents of MMR hark back to the 1950s, it is generally accepted that the beginnings of MMR arose in the 1980s (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Mixed methods research has not been without its critics, but at its core it is “premised on the idea that the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in combination provides a better understanding than either approach alone” (Cresswell & Clark, 2007, p. 18). Despite the apparent commonsense of this, the paradigmatic debate has been anything but straightforward. MMR has been largely dominated by the so-called qualitative-quantitative debate running from the mid 1980s until the late 1990s. This was because there seemed no real way to reconcile the difficulties of using differing methods within one study given that “the various methods are linked to different inquiry paradigms” (Greene & Caracelli, 1997, p. 7); philosophically there seemed no way to “fit” mixed methods into existing conceptions.

Conflict of interest and the influence of the researcher.

The potential conflicts were mitigated by the fact that my membership of the faculty was more remote than that of an academic staff member. I am a general staff member who reports to the management of the University of Auckland library, not to the Dean of Education. In my role as librarian I have no influence or access to student course work or to grades. My primary contacts with participants in the study were working as a subject librarian on the Information Desk in the library, and being a member of a masters cohort project trialled by the faculty in 2010 and led by Professor Lorna Earl. The aim of the group was to ensure successful completion of masters dissertations and theses. From participation in this group four of the participants in the interviews were known to me. Because of my links to the group being studied, the PIS explained to participants that their names would not be used in any publication or report.

Managing information (including referencing and writing). A little over a third of

respondents (36%) considered they were skilled/very skilled at managing their references and using tools such as EndNote to help them. This was equalled by the 35% who considered themselves somewhat unskilled/unskilled. When respondents were asked about the degree of difficulty they had in managing the results of their searches 36% of the taught students found it easy/very easy to manage their results, while 24% of the research students did so. To sum up, those students that considered themselves skilled at managing their references also reported it was easy to manage their search results.

Effectiveness of students’ information seeking and information management.

The objective testing of effectiveness in information seeking was not part of this research. Effectiveness for my research was defined by students‟ own perception of their success in information seeking. Their perceptions were then weighed against how they said they selected their key words, evaluated the information they found, and their ability to actually find the full-text of what they were looking for. Respondents were asked to assess how frequently they had found what they were looking for, or something of equal relevance, by the time they got to the end of a search session. Over 74% considered that they frequently found what they were looking for, and 10% said they always found what they looking for. Students obviously felt that they were successful at being able to find what they needed for study.

Table of Contents :

  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • List of Appendices
  • Chapter One: Introduction
    • Origins of this Study
    • Information Literacy in Tertiary Education
    • The Focus on Postgraduate Students
    • The Structure of the Thesis
  • Chapter Two: Literature Review
    • Theoretical Background of Information Behaviour
    • The Cognitive Approach in Information Behaviour
    • The model used in my research
    • Information Seeking
    • Library and information science
    • Information Seeking and the Research Behaviour of Undergraduate Students
    • Information Seeking and the Research Behaviour of Graduate Students
    • Influences on Information Seeking and Student Research Behaviour
    • The influence of age on research behaviour
    • The influence of gender on research behaviour
    • The influence of work on research behaviour
    • The influence of online learning on research behaviour
    • The influence of information technology literacy on research behaviour
    • The influence of search engines on research behaviour
    • The influence of supervisors and librarians on research behaviour
    • Student Approaches to Information seeking
    • Sources of information used by students
    • Online searching behaviours of students
    • Research Capabilities of Students
    • Online searching capabilities of novices and experts
    • Self-efficacy and student online searching
    • Student capability in managing information
    • Effectiveness of Student Information seeking and Information Management
    • Effectiveness in finding full-text documents
    • Information overload and its relationship to effective searching
    • Evaluation of information sources and critical thinking
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
    • Specific Aims of this Research
    • Mixed Methods Research
    • Research Design
    • The Research Instruments
    • Design of the questionnaire
    • Administration of the questionnaire
    • The questionnaire sample
    • Design of the interview schedule
    • Interview procedures
    • The interview participants
    • Data Analysis
    • Mixed methods data analysis
    • Analysis of the questionnaire data
    • Thematic analysis of the interview data
    • Trustworthiness of the Study
    • Ethical Issues
    • Informed consent
    • Anonymity and confidentiality
    • Conflict of interest and the influence of the researcher
  • Chapter Four: Findings
    • Questionnaire Findings
    • Student approaches to information seeking
    • Findings on the research capabilities of students
    • Effectiveness of students‟ information seeking and information management
    • Interview Findings
    • Influences on student research behaviour
    • Motivation for study
    • Student approaches to information seeking
    • Research capabilities of students
    • Effectiveness of students‟ information seeking and information management
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter Five: Discussion
    • The Mismatch between Perception and Capability
    • IT literacy
    • Online searching – the problem of keywords
    • Online searching – retrieving what is found
    • Online searching behaviours – knowing when to stop
    • Influences on Research Behaviour
    • Time is of the essence
    • Age and gender
    • Being off-campus
    • Is it All Just Google?
    • Keeping Information Found
    • Novice-Expert Interaction
    • Evaluation of Information Sources, Information Literacy and Teaching
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter Six: Conclusion
    • Implications of this Study
    • Limitations
    • Possibilities for Further Research
    • Reflection
    • References

Is it all just Google? The research behaviour of education masters students

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