Motivation and the information behaviours of online learning students: the case of a professionally-oriented, graduate program

  • Author / Creator
    Saumure, Kristie
  • Online learning is a wonderful opportunity for students who cannot attend classes at conventional times and places to further their education. However, to some extent, accessing and sharing information is often quite different and potentially more difficult for this particular group (e.g., they may lack access to the campus library). For this reason, it is important to appreciate both how the students are seeking and sharing information in this environment, as well as what drives these information behaviours. Understanding these processes will better enable instructors, librarians, and other relevant parties to facilitate information access to this population (e.g., through in-depth database training and/or better technology tools). With that in mind, this research asked: 1) In what types of information seeking and sharing behaviours do online learning students engage? 2) What motivates online learning students to both seek and share information? 3) Can a theoretical model of students’ motivational orientations as they apply to their information behaviours be developed? To answer these questions, the Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning Program was examined as an in-depth case study. A grounded theory approach was employed to enable the development of the motivational theory. Data were collected exclusively through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, though with two distinct groups of people: 15 students and 3 key informants. The students were asked to reflect on their experiences accessing and sharing information in the online setting as well as what they thought drove their information behaviours, while the key informants provided context around the program itself and offered their insights into how they believe the students interact with information. Overall, this study revealed that both electronic and local resources are key to these students’ information seeking successes. Furthermore, the results suggest that personally or professionally relevant assignments provide students with the greatest motivation to seek information for their coursework. Students in this online learning environment were inclined to share professional, academic, and personal information with others because they believed that this online learning environment fostered a culture of sharing.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2010
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.