Information Technology and Information Literacy

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According to McMillan (2012:5), research is a “systematic process of gathering and analysing information and educational research is systematic, disciplined inquiry applied to educational problems and questions”. Research has also been defined as the collection of data, in a logical way, in order to explore, describe or explain things, to find, generalize, correct or create knowledge, solve problems and answer questions (Eldredge 2004:83; Rugg & Petre 2007:61; Vogt 2007:5).
Bushaway (2003:161) is of the opinion that research is the process of undertaking or carrying out original investigation in all its forms: analysis, innovation, experiment, observation, intellectual enquiry, survey, scholarship, creativity, measurement, development, hypothesis, modelling and evaluating with a view to generating new knowledge or novel comprehension. In the same vein Atkins and Wallace (2012:20) explained that research is systematic because it is carefully planned and carried out. With different perspective on the definition of research, Mertens (2005:2) opined that it has been suggested, however, that the « exact nature of the definition of research is influenced by the researcher’s theoretical framework ».
There are basically two types of research, the basic research and the applied research. According to Powell and Connaway (2004:53), basic research tends to be theoretical in nature and concerns itself primarily with theory construction, hypothesis testing, and producing new, generalizable knowledge. Applied research is more practical in nature than basic research. Applied research “strives to improve our understanding of a problem, with the intent of contributing to the solution of that problem” (Bickman & Rog 2009:x). Applied research often generates new knowledge and contributes to theory, but its primary focus is on collecting and generating data to further our understanding of real-world problems.
Curry (2005:6) observed that practicing information professionals routinely investigate problems within their libraries, but rarely do they have the time to organise a rigorous and sustained inquiry and analysis into the problem at hand. This study was a mix of both basic and applied research because it investigated, generated new knowledge on the concept of information literacy and lifelong learning and provided a practical solution on its acceptability for students in higher education.
This chapter presents the theoretical perspective to this study, the procedures involved in carrying out this study were: the research design, study area, target population, sample size, sampling procedures and techniques, instrument for data collection, validity and reliability of the instrument, procedure for data collection, data analysis and presentation, research evaluation and, lastly, the ethical consideration and summary of the chapter.

Theoretical Perspectives

This section provides the worldviews or paradigms that relate to the research process and research design. According to Given (2013) and Ngulube (2015) many researchers have difficulty in identifying the conceptual differences between epistemology, ontology, paradigm, methodology, research approaches, techniques and other core concepts in research methods. The purpose of this theoretical background is to clarify issues of using concepts in research methodology.
Sarantakos (2013) reported that “ontological, epistemological and methodological prescriptions of social research are ‘packaged’ in paradigms which guide everyday research”. In a bid to make things clearer philosophically, researchers made claims about what is knowledge (ontology), how we know it (epistemology), what values go into it (axiology), how we write about it (rhetoric), and the processes for studying it (methodology). Creswell (2014) referred to these philosophical assumptions as worldviews. Mouton (2011) stated that worldviews were the basic beliefs and principles that guided the researcher’s actions. Yin (2014) claimed that worldviews influenced the research strategies, research design, and research methods for all research projects.
Ontology is a set of beliefs about what exists or what is real (Kim 2010:5). This author further described epistemology as a set of beliefs about knowing and explaining that methodology involves the interviewing and observing of the participants in their natural setting in order to capture the reconstructions participants use to make meaning of their world. Ngulube (2015) expressed diagrammatically the different typologies about the research knowledge claims and their breakdown as shown below:
Knowledge that is generated in the interpretivist paradigm is subjective while, epistemologically, positivists generate objective knowledge that is ‘out there’. Pragmatism or methodological pluralism was born out of an attempt to bridge the gap between interpretivist and positivist epistemologies (Ngulube, 2015:127).


Polit and Beck (2012:11) defined a paradigm as a worldview, a general perspective on the complexities of the world. Mertens (2005:7) posited that a paradigm is a way of looking at the world and is composed of certain philosophical assumptions that guide and direct thinking and action. Neuman (2006:81) referred to a research paradigm as “a general organizing framework for theory and research that includes basic assumptions, key issues, models of quality research, and methods for seeking answers”. According to Denzin and Lincoln (2008:22) a paradigm is referred to as “the net that contains the researcher’s epistemological, ontological, and methodological premises”. A paradigm helps the researcher to be organized in thinking, observing and interpreting a process. It is a way of looking a set of philosophical assumptions and guides one’s approach to enquiry (Brink, Van der Walt & Rensburg 2012:25).
Mackenzie and Knipe (2006) classified variable theoretical paradigms as positivist (post-positivist), constructivist, interpretivist, transformative, emancipatory, critical, pragmatism and de-constructivist, post positivist or interpretivist. According to (Creswell 2003:8), the interpretivist/constructivist researcher tends to rely upon the « participants’ views of the situation being studied » and recognizes the impact on the research of their own background and experiences. Interpretivist/constructivist approaches to research have the intention of understanding « the world of human experience » (Cohen & Manion 1994:36), suggesting that « reality is socially constructed » (Mertens 2005:12).
In the classification of these paradigms, researchers believe that the interpretivist/constructivist paradigm predominantly uses qualitative methods (Glesne & Peshkin 1992; Silverman, 2000; McQueen, 2002; Thomas, 2003; Willis, 2007; Nind &Todd 2011) whilst the positivist and post positivist research is most commonly aligned with quantitative methods of data collection and analysis (Mackenzie & Knipe 2006:np). The positivist paradigm arose from the philosophy identified as logical positivism and is based on rigid rules of logic and measurement, truth, absolute principles and prediction (Halcomb & Andrew 2005; Cole 2006; Weaver & Olson 2006).
Johnson, Onwuegbuzie and Turner (2007:112) observed that pragmatism is “increasingly articulated and recognised as the third major research approach or research paradigm”. Authors such as Feilzer (2010), Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004); Maxcy (2003), Morgan (2007), Teddlie and Tashakkori (2003), Bazeley (2003); Greene & Caracelli (1997 & 2003) indicated that out of the types of research paradigms, pragmatism has been identified with the mixed methods philosophy. The pragmatic paradigm is oriented “toward solving practical problems in the ‘real world’ rather than on assumptions about the nature of knowledge” (Feilzer, 2010:8). Pragmatism or methodological pluralism was born out of an attempt to bridge the gap between interpretivist and positivist epistemologies (Ngulube 2015:127).
Qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meaning people bring to them (Flick 2007:12; Polit & Beck 2012:14; Creswell 2013:43).

 Research Methodology

According to Silverman (2013:113), a methodology refers to the choices we make about cases to study, methods of data gathering, and forms of data analysis in planning and executing a research study. A methodology defines how one will go about studying any phenomenon. Research methodology refers to a technique and process utilised by the researcher to structure a study in a logistical, relational and ethical manner (Bloomberg & Volpe 2012:108), and to gather and analyse information in a systematic manner (Polit & Beck 2012:741).
Ngulube (2015:127) explains that methodology is central to the research process because it is the lens through which a researcher looks when making decisions on acquiring knowledge about social phenomenon and getting answers to the research questions. He added that it specifies the types of research designs and research methods that may be employed to gain knowledge about a phenomenon. The choice of a research methodology is determined by the “underlying theoretical paradigm” (Sarantakos 2013), the purpose of the research, and the research question (Ngulube 2015:12). There are three broad research methodologies, namely quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research.

Quantitative Methodology

Quantitative research is a means for testing objective theories by examining the relationships among variables (Polit & Hungler 2013; Moxham 2012). Matthews and Ross (2010:478) view quantitative research methods as primarily concerned with gathering and working with data that is structured and can be presented numerically. Silverman (2010:13) noted that the quantitative research approach obtains data which is statistically relevant and is usually used to answer questions such as how many, where from and how much, amongst other questions.
According to Stangor (2011:15), quantitative research is descriptive research that uses more formal measures of beliefs, attitudes, intentions and behaviour, including questionnaires and systematic observation of behaviour that is subjected to statistical analysis. In most cases quantitative research places emphasis on quantification in the collection and analysis of data and the data can be expressed in numbers, percentages, tables (Babbie 2010:35).
Earlier in the chapter it was pointed out that a quantitative approach was the dominant data collection strategy in the study with a small component of the overall study being drawn from the qualitative paradigm. The dominant quantitative approach was used in the study to test the information literacy and lifelong learning skills of the students in the National Open University whilst the qualitative approach was used to collect data needed to clarify areas that were not adequately covered in the quantitative data collection phase.

Qualitative Methodology

Qualitative research is defined by Jwan and Ong’ondo (2011:3) as an approach to enquiry that emphasises a naturalistic search for relativity in meaning, multiplicity to interpretations, particularity, detail and flexibility in studying a phenomenon or the aspect(s) of it that a researcher chooses to focus on at a given time. In qualitative research, numerical data is not necessarily generated. Ngulube (2005) noted that the qualitative research approach is usually confined to indepth studies of small groups or individuals. The qualitative research approach mainly gives answers to the question of ‘why’ and involves collecting data by observing what people say and do. Qualitative techniques gather descriptive type of data while quantitative collects statistical data (Tuli 2006:99).
Creswell (2014:4) described qualitative research as an approach for exploring and understanding the meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social or human problem. The qualitative research is based on the philosophy of empiricism, follows an unstructured, flexible and open approach to enquiry, aims to describe rather than measure, believes in in-depth understanding and small samples, and explores perceptions and feelings rather than facts and figures (Kumar 2011:394). This study contains an aspect of the qualitative strand.

Mixed Methods Research

Mixed methods research (MMR) is in the realm of multi-paradigms since it employs both the positivist and interpretivist paradigms (Romm & Ngulube 2015). Bazeley (2008:133) reported that mixed methods research is an umbrella term applying to almost any situation where more than one methodological approach is used in combination with another, usually, but not essentially, involving a combination of at least some elements drawn from each of qualitative and quantitative approaches to research. Creswell and Vicki (2011:5) identified core characteristics of mixed methods research. Some of the characteristics are that the researcher:

    • Collects and analyses persuasively and rigorously both qualitative and quantitative data (based on research questions)
    • Mixes (or integrates or links) the two forms of data concurrently by combining them (or merging them), by having one build on the other sequentially, or by embedding one within the other
    • Gives priority to one or to both forms of data (in terms of what the research emphasises) Uses these procedures in a single study or in multiple phases of a programme of study Frames these procedures within philosophical worldviews and theoretical lenses
    • Combines the procedures into specific research designs that direct the plan for conducting the study.

    1.0 Introduction
    1.2. Contextual Setting
    1.3 Statement of the Problem
    1.4 Purpose, Objectives of the Study and Research Questions
    1.5 Significance of the Study
    1.6 Literature Review
    1.7 Research Methodology
    1.8 Scope and Limitations of the Study
    1.9 Originality of the Study
    1.10 Ethical Considerations
    1.11 Definition of Key Terms
    1.12 Dissemination of the Findings
    1.14 Referencing Conventions used in the Study
    1.15 Summary
    2.0 Introduction
    2.1. Purpose of a Literature Review
    2.2 Conceptual Map
    2.3 Approach to Literature
    2.4 The Concept of Information Literacy
    2.5 Distance Education
    2.6 Information Technology and Information Literacy
    2.7 Information Literacy in Higher Education
    2.8 Information Literacy Curriculum
    2.9 Constructivist Theory in Adult Learning
    2.10 Related Studies
    2.11 Summary
    3.0 Introduction
    3.1 Theoretical Perspectives
    3.2 Paradigms
    3.3 Research Methodology
    3.4 Research Design
    3.5 Study Area
    3.6 Study Population
    3.7 Sampling Methods
    3.8 Sample Size, Sampling Procedure and Technique
    3.9 Data Collection Procedures and Method
    3.10 Pretesting the Questionnaire
    3.12 Data Analysis and Statistical Presentation
    3.13 Ethical Considerations
    3.14 Evaluation of the Research Methodology
    3.15 Summary
    4.0 Introduction
    4.1 Results from the Quantitative Instrument
    4.2 Results from Qualitative Instruments
    4.3 Summary
    5.0 Introduction
    5.1 Types of Information Literacy Materials Available in NOUN
    5.2 Information Resources for Information Literacy
    5.3 Use of Resources
    5.5 Information Literacy Competency Level of NOUN Students
    5.6 Integration of Information Literacy
    5.7 Challenges Associated with Information Literacy Education in NOUN
    5.8 Strategies to be adopted for the Implementation of Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning
    5.9. Summary
    6.0 Introduction
    6.1 Summary of Findings
    6.2 Conclusions
    6.3 Recommendations
    6.4 Suggestions for Further Research
    6.5 Final Conclusion

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