Making Sense of the Information Seeking Process of Undergraduates in a Specialised University: Revelations from Dialogue Journaling on WhatsApp Messenger

Dorcas E Krubu, Sandy Zinn, Genevieve C Hart
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 13  •  2017  •  pp. 019-036
Aim/Purpose: The research work investigated the information seeking process of undergraduates in a specialised university in Nigeria, in the course of a group assignment.

Background: Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) model is used as lens to reveal how students interact with information in the affective, cognitive and physical realms.

Methodology: Qualitative research methods were employed. The entire seventy-seven third year students in the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas and their course lecturer were the participants. Group assignment question was analysed using Bloom’s Taxonomy while the information seeking process of the students was garnered through dialogue journaling on WhatsApp Messenger.

Contribution: The research explicates how students’ information seeking behaviour can be captured beyond the four walls of a classroom by using a Web 2.0 tool such as WhatsApp Messenger.

Findings: The apparent level of uncertainty, optimism, and confusion/doubt common in the initiation, selection, and exploration phases of the ISP model and low confidence levels were not markedly evident in the students. Consequently, Kuhlthau’s ISP model could not be applied in its entirety to the study’s particular context of teaching and learning due to the nature of the assignment.

Recommendations for Practitioners: The study recommends that the Academic Planning Unit (APU) should set a benchmark for all faculties and, by extension, the departments in terms of the type/scope and number of assignments per semester, including learning outcomes.

Recommendation for Researchers: Where elements of a guided approach to learning are missing, Kuhlthau’s ISP may not be employed. Therefore, alternative theory, such as Theory of Change could explain the poor quality of education and the type of intervention that could enhance students’ learning.

Impact on Society: The ability to use emerging technologies is a form of literacy that is required by the 21st century work place. Hence, the study demonstrates students’ adaptation to emerging technology.

Future Research: The study is limited to only one case site. It would be more helpful to the Nigerian society to have this study extended to other universities for the purpose of generalisation and appropriate intervention.
information seeking process, information seeking, dialogue journaling, group assignment, analysis of assignment, specialised university
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