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Student use of electronic information services in further education

Urquhart, Christine and Thomas, Rhian and Spink, Siân and Fenton, Roger and Yeoman, Alison and Lonsdale, Ray and Armstrong, Chris and Banwell, Linda and Ray, Kathryn and Coulson, Graham and Rowley, Jennifer (2005) Student use of electronic information services in further education. International Journal of Information Management, 25 (4). pp. 347-362. ISSN 1873-4707

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Abstract

This paper presents a profile of user behaviour in relation to the use of electronic information services (EIS), information skills, and the role of training and wider learning experiences in UK further education colleges. The research was conducted under the JISC User Behaviour Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. Work was conducted in two strands, by two project teams, JUSTEIS and JUBILEE. JUSTEIS profiled the use of EIS and assessed the availability of EIS. JUBILEE objectives focussed on understanding the barriers and enablers, with a view to developing success criteria. JUSTEIS used a multi-stage stratified sampling process, and collected data from 270 respondents from 17 departments in the baseline survey (2001/2002). JUBILEE conducted in-depth fieldwork in five institutions and snapshot fieldwork in 10 institutions, collecting data from 528 respondents. Information skills and experience develop across work, home and study. There is a growing use of EIS in curriculum, but practice varies between institutions and disciplines. Tutors express concern about student's ability to evaluate and use the information that they find. Assignments can promote EIS use. The main categories of EIS used by students are search engines and organisational web sites. Search engines are the preferred search tools and search strategies are basic. Information skills are acquired through a variety of routes, with peer instruction, surfing and personal experience, instruction from tutors, and LIS induction and training all making an important contribution. The solutions to improving students’ information skills may include use of the Virtual Training Suites, but librarians need to adopt different roles in promoting and evaluating use of such tools.

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