Type of Document Dissertation Author Al-Saleh, Yasir Nasser URN etd-07092004-164418 Title Graduate Students' Information Needs from Electronic Information Resources in Saudi Arabia Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Information Studies, School of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Kathleen Burnett Committee Chair Darrell Burke Committee Member Peter Garrestson Committee Member Thomas Hart Committee Member Keywords
- Electronic Resources
- Information Need
- Information Seeking
- Saudi Arabia
- Academic Libraries
- Graduate Students
Date of Defense 2004-06-10 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis study was driven by the growing importance of electronic information resources in university scholarly inquiry. The main focus of the research was to discover graduate students’ information needs, the level of these needs, and the extent to which they were being met in relation to accessing and utilizing electronic information in an academic environment. The study’s conceptual framework was grounded in Dervin’s sense-making theory. It used Kari’s modification of sense-making to clarify the research questions and guide the survey questionnaire to examine Saudi graduate students’ information actions (needs, seeking, and use) in the context of academic electronic information resources in Saudi Arabian universities. The study examined graduate students in three Saudi universities: Umm Al-Qura University, King Saud University, and King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals.
Because the researcher wanted to examine a large sample of Saudi university graduate students’ information needs, a quantitative survey was most practical and cost-effective. The variables of the study were gender, age, academic degree, major, English language proficiency, Internet experience, and university. The sample of the study was 502 graduate students (10% of all Saudi Arabian graduate students) in the three universities. There were 480 usable responses which were coded and analyzed using SPSS software. The study used both descriptive and inferential statistics.
Findings indicated that only half of graduate students used the library’s electronic resources for their academic information needs. Chi-square test found a significant relationship between graduate students’ use or lack of use of their library’s electronic resources and the students’ situational variables. Of those students who used the library’s electronic resources, only about half needed these for written class assignments (61.1%), their thesis or dissertation (59.8%), and/or personal use (47.1%). Only 18.4% needed electronic information for oral class presentations and 8.6% for other purposes. For information strategies, the library’s electronic resources were never ranked as the first strategy of the six that were available. Kendall’s tau-b test indicated a significant relationship between graduate students’ strategies and their English proficiency. Of those graduate students who used the library’s electronic resources, most said they always accessed the Online Catalog (59.0%) and the Internet (60.2%), but only sometimes used electronic journals (52.9%), databases (50.4%), and other links on the library website (45.1%). The analysis of variance (ANOVA) test revealed significant differences between students’ English language proficiency and the frequency of their use of these resources.
Most students tended to agree that they were able to make sense of the information they got from the library’s electronic resources. However, they could not tell if they achieved information success or information overall satisfaction. ANOVA showed significant differences between students’ major and their judgment on the usefulness of the retrieved information. The main barrier to student information actions was insufficient instructions for using or searching the library’s electronic resources followed by not enough librarians to help. Other barriers were insufficient availability of computers or computer labs and libraries did not improve graduate students information technology skills. Difficulty accessing the Internet and the library’s electronic resources, clarity and ease of use of these resources, and relationship to their field were additional barriers to electronic information.
Overall, the study showed that, for a variety of reasons, the considerable electronic information resources of Saudi university libraries are under-utilized because they are not meeting graduate student needs. The most striking finding for this study was that most of the graduate students were deterred from using electronic resources, apparently due to experienced or perceived barriers. Graduate students who accessed these resources often found them not useful for their needs, further discouraging use. Instead, many graduate students’ information seeking situations were very diverse, yet the usefulness of library electronic information was questionable.
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