Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE October 2013 ISSN 1302-6488 Volume: 14 Number: 4 Article 12


 

 

INFORMATION-SEEKING BEHAVIOUR ON INTERNET:

A comparison between

Arts and Science Undergraduate Students in Iran

 

Dr. Faranak OMIDIAN      

                                                             A.M Masoomeh SEIFI MALEKI

                                                                 Islamic Azad University, Dezfool, IRAN

                                                                

 

Introduction


Internet has increasingly influenced the information seeking behavior of students in higher education over the past few decades. The mass availability of information on the web has seen significant changes in the electronic information needs information retrieval and communication patterns (information seeking behavior) of university students. The easy-to-use internet promotes more information seeking while constantly attracting more new users, and achieves this immeasurably faster than traditional repositories. This has catapulted the Internet  to  the  top  of  the  pile  of  current  information resources (Nkomo , 2009). It  is assumed  that  in  this new age, which  is characterized by  the extensive use  of  internet,  students' needs  have  evolved  into  something  considerably less  familiar. The rise of diverse search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Altavista, and networking sites has also affected the information seeking behaviors of Academic researchers (Ge, 2010). Jansen and Pooch (2001) claim that a completely new pattern of information seeking behavior has emerged. In the emerging electronic  environment, knowledge about  the  information seeking behavior of  students on  the web  is crucial for those wishing to help them effectively meet their information needs online (Nkomo , 2009).

 

According to Cutrell and Guan (2007), “Understanding how users search for information on the Web has enormous practical implications for academic endeavors. Many studies on internet based students' information seeking behavior or skills/literacy have been conducted over the last decade involving both undergraduates and postgraduates. Numerous studies identified that university students prefer to use the  Internet  for their information need more than  traditional  print  sources due to being quickly and easily valuable resource ( Upton, 2006 , smart & cappel , 2006 , Gay et al , 2006 , Hickman & Cooner , 2008 , Svirko & mellanby , 2oo8 , Buzzetto , 2008 , Yaghoubi , et al , 2008 , Neo & Neo , 2008  , Ostland , 2008 , AlDOUB , et al , 2008 , Palmer & Holt m 2009 , Theyben & Hahn-Allee , 2009 , Alobiedat  and  Saraierh ,  2010 ;  Omidian , 2011 ). Nevertheless , others concern regarding to the information seeking behavior of students in higher education as quickly and easily accessible internet or highly availability of information on the web has led to competency learned by rote , the unthinking, unevaluated, over-usage of web resources by students (Graham and Metaxas, 2003, Head and Eisenberg , 2009 ; Nicholas and Huntington , 2009 ).

 

And, more generally, as researchers and practitioners wonder whether students' internet based knowledge for searching is adequate. A CIBER log studies conducted during 2003 to 2007, found undergraduate students didn’t used PDFs format in their research works functions because of cutting and pasting them easier to do in HTML format. In addition, they didn’t sign up for the profile of papers, articles and etc.

 

Indeed, a 2008 study found similarly stating that undergraduate students were less likely to penetrate a website deeply and proved to be the biggest viewers of abstracts. Mehra and bilal (2007) also found that international Asian undergraduate students mentioned difficulty in using digital interfaces mainly due to their inadequate level of English language skills.

 

Searching, browsing the hierarchical structure of web directories   . Martin (2008) found undergraduate at the University of Central Florida’s College of Education didn’t use Google Scholar due to being unaware not only of the differences between academic and non-academic sources, but also the appropriateness of using those sources.

 

However, some have argued that with high Internet self-efficacy had better information searching strategies and learned better than those with low Internet self-efficacy in a Web-based learning task (Tsai & Tsai 2003; Hong, 2006). Weiler (2005) goes on the note that the process of finding information is subjective and influenced by previous experiences, knowledge, and opinions, Nkomo's study (2009) concludes undergraduate students focused on a few channels, particularly search engines, email and general websites while Those with more web experience showed a greater appreciation for other information channels such as online databases and electronic document delivery services.

 

According to Ellis & Allaire (1999) students studying information systems and computer sciences will possess the highest levels of computer competency due to their experience with technology and their interest in using technology.  Sam, Othman & Nordin (2005) revealed that Undergraduates from the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology (FCSIT) had significantly better computer self-efficacy than undergraduates from Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts (FACA).

 

A 2010 study Pradeepkumar & Panchanatham) found that the Arts and Science College students didn’t concentrate more in using e-journals and e-books when comparing to the Engineering College students.

 

The higher ratio of e-mail users belonged Engineering students comparing to Arts and Science college stOmidian's (2010) research identified a lowering of overall computer self-efficacy and high computer anxiety for those students from faculty Arts and education than students who belonged to science faculty. In a study of Information literacy of incoming undergraduate Arts students, King (2007) noted that students didn’t know names of different search engines and Boolean operators.

 

They also didn’t not use e-mail and the WWW as an information resource. Given the potential importance of disciplinary differences, it is essential that researchers fully understand the different patterns of undergraduate students’ information seeking behavior relating to internet use. 

 

It would be most beneficial to compare information seeking behavior of students considered to be of the Arts education departments and students that belonged to science and engineering faculties in order to isolate and compare differences between these groups.

 

Although Numerous  legally  approved  universities  in Iran   offer  various  courses associated with Arts and science at  undergraduate  level,  no comparative study conducted on the information needs and information-seeking behavior of arts, humanities, Education , science and  engineering students.

 

Accordingly, this paper aims to compare Information-Seeking Behavior on Internet between Arts and science undergraduate students in one of major universities in Iran.

METHOD

 

 Designing the Instrument

A scale with 43 ​​questions in 5-point Likert format was developed by investigators. The reliability of the scale was calculated through internal consistency method. Cronbach’s alpha reliability Score was, 0.79 which is considered very well (Hair et al. 1998) .

 

Sample design

250 Arts and science undergraduate students at Islamic Azad University of dezful were selected using stratified sampling technique. The average of ages for arts and science students were 24.11 and 23.34 respectively. Approximately 43 % of respondents were male  and 57 % were female.

 

Results

 

Research Question:   1

Is there any significant difference between the arts and science students ' familiarity concerning the use of e-mail?

 

 

 

Table:  1

The percentages of levels of Arts and Science students'

familiarity about the use of e-mail

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Rank

Percent

Frequency

statistical indicators

 

       

 

          Options

5

1.6

3

4

12.3

8

Very Low

4

2.3

4

4

12.3

8

Low

3

22.2

41

1

33.8

22

Somewhat

1

46.5

86

2

24.6

16

High

2

27.6

51

3

16.9

11

Very much

 

100

185

 

100

65

Total

 

 

Table: 1 revealed that 24.6 percent of Arts students were familiarity with using email, while 46.5 percent of science students indicated that they were familiar with how to use email. The difference was found to be significant at 0. 001 level of significance when the Chi-square value was computed as 33.24 percent. It was therefore found that science students were significantly more familiar with using email as compared to arts students.

 

Research Question:  2

Is there any difference between the arts and science students 'ability to create blog?  

 

 

Table 2:

The comparison of Arts and Science students' ability  to create blog

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Rank

percent

Frequency

statistical indicators

 

       

 

          Options

2

61.8  

114

1

50.8

33

Yes

1

38.2

71

2

49.2

32

No

 

100

185

 

100

65

Total

 

 

As Table 2 shows, about 61.8 percent science students and 50.8 percent Arts students had the ability to set up a weblog.  Chi-square test results (χ2 =3.04, p= 0.081) indicated that there was no significant difference between two groups.

 

Research Question:  3

Is there any significant difference between the arts and science students 'familiarity with internet addresses? 

 

Table: 3

The comparison of Arts and Science students' knowledge about internet addresses

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Satistical

indicators

 

 

          Options

3

43.8

81

3

35.4

23

Com

6

26.5

49

4

21.5

14

Co

2

44.3

82

1

58.5

38

Edu

5

28.6

53

5

20

13

Gv

1

55.7

103

2

41.5

27

Org

4

31.9

59

5

20

13

Net

7

19.5

36

4

21.5

14

Mil

 

As shown in table 3, URL and edu with (58.5 percent), org (41.5 percent), com (35.2 percent), co and mil (21.5), gv and net (20 percent) are the most familiar internet addresses among the arts students. The science students mentioned org (55.7 percent), edu (44.3 percent), com (43.8percent), net (31.9 percent), gv (28.6 percent) as the most familiar internet addresses. Results of chi-square test (χ2= 12.37, p= 0.089) was not found to be significant even at the 0.05 level of confidence. This suggests that there is no significant difference between the arts and science students concerning their familiarity with internet addresses.

 

Research Question: 4

Is there any difference between the arts and science students' success of data retrieval?

 

Table: 4

The comparison of success of data retrieval between Arts and Science students

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Statistical

 indicators

 

 

 

Options

6

0.5

1

4

4.6

3

Unsuccessful Strongly

4

4.3

8

3

6.2

4

Unsuccessful

1

49.7

92

1

53.8

35

relatively Successful

2

35.7

66

2

32.3

21

Successful

5

3.2

6

0

0

0

Strongly successful

3

6.5

12

5

3.1

2

Undecided

 

100

185

 

100

65

Total

 

 

As Table 4 displays, although 10.8 percent of Arts students were very unsuccessful in data retrieval, 53. 8 and 32. 3 percent of them assessed themselves relatively Successful and successful respectively.

 

Similarly, in the science faculty, 4.8 percent of the respondents failed in data recovering, while 49. 7 and 35.7 percent of them were relatively Successful and successful respectively.

 

Results of chi-square test (χ2 =8. 75, p= 0.11 9) also was not found significantly different between the two faculties with regard to  data  retrieval.

 

Research Question:   5

Is there any significant difference between the arts and science students ' preference towards search engines?

 

 

Table: 5

The comparison of search services used between Arts and science students

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Rank

percent

frequency

statistical indicators

 

       

 

          Options

1

88.6

164

2

70.8

46

Google

2

60

111

1

72.3

74

Yahoo

3

3.2

6

4

4.6

3

Altavista

3

7.6

14

4

4.6

3

MSN

 

 

As shown in Table 5,  All respondents use search engines , especially Google (88.6 percent arts students,  70.8 percent science students ) followed by Yahoo(72.3 percent arts students,  60 percent science students ), Alta Vista ( 4.6 percent arts students ,  3.2 percent science students and MSN (4.6 percent arts students, 7.6 percent science students. Significant difference (χ2 =15. 32, p= 0.009) was also found between arts and science students ' familiarity with using Internet search engines.

 

The findings showed that the science students value Google over other search engine as compared to arts students. In contrast, students belonging to arts faculty preferred to utilize Yahoo.

 

Research Question:  6

Is there any significant difference between arts and science students ' strategies of using Internet search engines?

Table: 6

The comparison of usage of search engine strategies between arts and science students

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Rank

Percent

frequency

statistical  indicators

       

 

Options

1

36.8

68

2

24.6

16

Simple search words Writing

3

23.2

43

4

18.5

12

The use of long sentences

4

7.6

14

5

7.7

5

Attention to large and small letters of words

2

27.6

51

1

29.2

19

Use of long words

 

5

4.9

9

3

20

13

Undecided

 

100

185

 

100

65

Total

 

As shown in Table 6, the main strategies of using Internet search engines by Arts Students were using long words (29.2 percent) followed by writing simple search word (24.6 percent), long sentences (18.5 percent) and large and small letters of words (7.7 percent).  On the other hand, science students mainly seek information through search engines by the methods of writing simple search words (36. 8 percent) followed by using long words (27.6 percent), the use of long sentences (23.2 percent) and writing small and large letters of words (7.6 percent). The difference was found to be significant even at 0.01 level of significance when the Chi-square value (χ2=15.18, p=0.004) was computed. The results revealed that there was significant difference in the method of simply searching through search engines with science students avoiding it more than their counterparts from Arts faculty.

 

Research Question:   7

Is there any difference between the arts and science students concerning how to be familiarity with Internet ?

 

Table: 7

The comparison of methods of familiarity with internet

between arts and science students

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

percent

Frequency

Rank

percent

frequency

statistical indicators       

 

          Options

1

54.1

100

1

49.2

32

Colleagues and friend

2

46.5

86

4

32.3

21

Study books

 

4

25.4

47

2

36.9

24

Formal training

 

3

43.8

81

3

35.4

23

Trail and error

 

Table: 7 indicates 49.2 % arts student's ranked colleagues and friends first as the most method of familiarity with internet. Formal training was the second as revealed by 36.2 of the respondents, followed by trial and error method which is ranked as third by 35.4 percent and finally study books (32/3 percent) was in the last rank.

 

Similarly, 54.1 percent of science students considered colleagues and friends the best way to be familiar with internet. However, 46.5 percent science students recognized internet through Study books, followed by trial and error (35.4 percent) and formal education (36.2 percent).

 

The difference between two faculties concerning methods of familiarity with internet was found not to be significant even at 0.05 level of significance when the Chi-square value (χ2 =8.50, p= 0.075) was computed.  

 

Research Question:  8

Is there any significant difference between arts and science students in terms of how to find internet resources?

 

 

Table: 8

The comparison of methods of finding internet resources between

Arts and science students

 

Science

Arts

Groups

Rank

Percent

Frequency

Rank

Percent

Frequency

statistical indicators

      

 

          Options

6

13

24

3

12.3

8

printed sources

3

21.6

40

2

23.1

15

Electronic Reference

8

5.9

11

3

12.3

8

Internet address (URL)

1

48.1

89

1

26.2

17

Search engine

 

5

15.1

28

4

7.7

5

Email

4

21.1

39

3

12.3

8

Magazines

 

7

8.1

15

5

3.1

2

Seminars

 

Table 8 illustrates that students from both faculties strongly found Internet resources (48.1 percent science students, 26.2 percent Arts students) through the search meta engines followed by electronic sources (23.1 percent Arts students, 21.6 percent science  students) .

 

Not so with seminars, email and magazine:  only 3.1%, 7.7% and 12.3 % of arts students found internet resources. However, science students employed seminars (8.1%), email(15.1%) and magazine(21.1%) to come across internet resources . It was found no significant different between the two groups when computed Chi-square value (χ2 =39.7, p=0.193) was obtained.  

 

CONCLUSION

 

The purpose of this study was the comparison of Information-Seeking Behaviour with using Internet between Arts and science undergraduate students. Results indicated that science students had a higher proficiency of using the strategies of internet search- engines than students who belonged to arts faculty. 

 

Similarly, they were familiar with using email more than those students from faculty science. This study's findings support the conclusions by (Ellis & Allaire 1999; Sam, Othman & Nordin , 2005; King, 2007; Pradeepkumar &Padeepkumar & 2010, Nkomo, 2009; Omidian, 2010) who found science , engineering and computer students had highest levels of computer competency due to their experience with technology and their interest in using technology .  On the other hand , no significant difference was found between the two groups concerning the ability of setup a weblog, familiarity with internet addresses and the success in data retrieving and familiarity with internet resources . However , majority of undergraduate students didn’t possess necessary skills and knowledge to use the internet resources effectively . Morever, the findings indicated that Google and yahoo were the best known and most widely used search engines among the students   . It might be due to easy and convenient access to the Google and Yahoo .  Overall , this study suggests the need for improvements in internet-related curricula used for undergraduate students . A need assessment should also be conducted in order to determine required revising the curriculum related to internet for faculty Arts

 

BIODATA and CONTACT ADDRESSESS of AUTHOR

Description: Description: 08421                                                              

Dr Faranak OMIDIAN is an Assistant Professor at Education, Department of Educational Sciences, Education Faculty,    Islamic Azad University . She obtained her Ph.D degree from Panjab University, Chandigarh, the Department of Educational Sciences, in 2010. Her main research interests   are e-learning, computer anxiety, Computer self efficacy and educational management.

 

Phone: +98-9166461597

Email: f.omidian@gmail.com   

 

 

 

A.M Masoomeh Seifi Maleki Graduate student of Education planning,                     

Islamic Azad University Dezful Branch In Iran.

Phone: +98-9366440665

Email: seyfimaleki@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Al- doub, E., Goodwin, R., & Al – Hunaiyyan, A. (2008). Students ‘ attitudes toward E-learning in Kuwait’s higher education institutions.  Retrieved from http://www.apsce.net/icce2008/papers/ICCE2008-paper202.pdf   

 Alobiedat  , A , Saraierh , R (2010) The Student's Attitude toward Use Platform as Learning Resources at University of Granada  . Review of European Studies . Vol. 2, No. 2; December 2010 . www.ccsenet.org/res

 

Buzzetto–More, N. A. (2008). Student Perceptions of E-learning Components  Interdisciplinary. Journal of E- learning and Learning Objects. Volume 4,2008 Retrieved from http://www.ijello.org/Volume4/IJELLOv4p113-135Buzzetto413.pdf

 

CIBER (2007), Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future (“Google Generation” Project), CIBER, University College London, available at: www.ucl.ac.uk/slais/research/ciber/downloads/ (accessed 17 March 2008). 

 

Cutrell, E. & Guan, Z. (2007). What are you looking for? An eye-tracking study of information usage in Web search. Available at: http.research.microsoft.com

 

Ellis, E,. Allaire  , A.  (1999)   Modeling computer  interest  in older adults: The  role of age, education, computer knowledge, and computer anxiety. Human Factors. 1999; 41: 345–355.

 

Gay, G., Mahon, S., Devonish, D., Alleyne, P., & Alleyne, P. (2006). Perceptions    of information and communication technology among undergraduate management students in Barbados. International Journal of Education and Development Using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), 2006, Vol, 2, Issue 4, p. 6-17.

 

Ge , X.  (2010). Information-Seeking Behavior in the Digital Age: A Multi-disciplinary Study of Academic Researchers . College &Research Libraries .71 (5)

 

Graham, L. and Metaxas, P.T. (2003), “Of course it’s true; I saw it on the internet: critical thinking in the internet era”, Communication of the ACM, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 71-5.

 

Hair, F., J R. Anderson, R .E., Tatham , R .L. & Black , W.C. (1998). Multivariate Data Analysis with Readings . 5th Edition, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

 
Head, A. J. & Eisenberg, M. B.  (2009, December 1). Lessons learned: How college students seek information in the digital age.  Retrieved December 17, 2009 from Project Information Literacy: http://projectinfolit.org

 

Hong, T. (2006). The Internet and tobacco cessation: The roles of Internet self-efficacy and search task on the information-seeking process. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), article 8.

 http://jcmc. indiana.edu/vol11/issue2/hong.html

  

Jansen, B.J. & Pooch, U. (2001). A review of web information searching studies and a   framework for future research. Journal of the American Society for Information   Science and Technology, 52 (3), 235-246. Available at:

 http://ist.psu.edu/faculty_pages/jjansen/academic/pubs/wus.pdf (Accessed   14/0/09)

 

King, L. (2007). Information literacy of incoming undergraduate Arts students at the University of the Western Cape: assessment of competencies and proficiencies is thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Philosophize Doctor in the Department of Library and Information Science, University of the Western Cape.

 

Martin, J. (2008). The Information Seeking Behavior of Undergraduate Education Majors: Dose library instruction play a role . Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 2008, 3:4

 

Mehra, B. & Bilal, D. (2007) International Students’ Perceptions of their Information Seeking Strategies. 35th Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science/L’Association canadienne des sciences de l’information (CAIS/ACSI): Information Sharing in a Fragmented World: Crossing Boundaries.

 

Nicholas, D. & Huntington, P. (2009).  Student digital information-seeking behavior in context. Journal of Documentation Vol. 65 No. 1, 2009 pp. 106-132 www.emeraldinsight.com/0022-0418.htm  

 

Nkomo, N. (2009). A comparative analysis of the web information seeking behavior of students and staff at the University of Zululand and the Durban University of Technology. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of a degree of Masters of Arts in Library and Information Science from the Department of Information Studies at the University of Zululand.

 

Omidian , F , (2011) E-LEARNING: Student's Attitude Towards E-Learning In Relation To Computer Self-Efficacy And Anxiety.  Germany: LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing .

 

Ostlund, B. (2008). Prerequisites for interactive learning in distance education : Perspectives  from Swedish students. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 2008, 24(1),42-56.

 

Sam,  K.H.,  Othman, A. E. A.&  Nordin,  Z.S.  (2005).  Computer  self-Efficacy,  Computer  Anxiety,  and  Attitudes toward the  internet  : A study among Undergratudes  in Unimas. Educational technology & society, 8(4), 205 –219.

 

Palmer, S. A. & Holt, D. M. (2009). Students’ perceptions of the value of the elements of an online learning environment: looking back in moving forward. Interactive Learning Environments.2009, 1-17, First article.

 Retrieved from http: www.informaworld.com

 

Pradeepkumar , E, I. & Prnchatham , N. (2010).  A  study on impact of rural college students in e-learning IN E-LEARNING (NAGAPATTINAM DISTRICT, TAMILNADU-INDIA).

 

Theyßen, H. & Hahn-Allee, O. (2009).Student’s attitudes towards the Hypermedia learning Environment “ physics for medical students. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning. Retrieved from http://www.eurodl.org/ ?keyword=e-learning&article=239

 

Thompson, A, J. (2007). Information seeking behavior of distance education students. Master’s paper submitted to the faculty of the School of Information and Library Science of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master.

 

Tsai, M, J. & Tsai, C, C. (2003).  Information searching strategies in web-based science learning: the role of internet self-efficacy. Innovations in Education and Teaching International Volume 40, Issue 1, 2003.

 

Upton, D. (2006). Online learning in speech and language therapy: student performance and attitudes. Education for Health. Vol. 19, No. 1, March 2006, 22-31Yaghoubi, J., Mohammadi, M., I.,Iravani, H., Attaran, M. & Gheidi, A. (2008). Virtual   sdudents’ erceptions of E-learning In Iran. The Turkish online Journal of Educational Technology –TOJET July 2008 ISSN : 1303-6521 VOL 7, Issue 3,Article 10. Retrieved on 5 Aug 2008.

 

Weiler, A.  (2005). Information-seeking behavior in Generation Y students: Motivation, critical thinking, and learning theory.  The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31(1), 46–53.

 

Yaghoubi, J., Mohammadi, M., I.,Iravani, H., Attaran, M. & Gheidi, A. (2008). Virtual students’perceptions of E-learning In Iran. The Turkiish online Journal of Educational Technology –TOJET July 2008 ISSN : 1303-6521 VOL 7, Issue 3,Article 10. Retrieved on 5 Aug 2008.