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Info Literacy Investigation Book Task

Page history last edited by bradyx 12 years ago



Information Seeking Activities - Book Task




The whole information seeking activity was introduced and participants were encouraged to name all of the resources available to them in a study centre. This introduction made them aware they had access to books, journals, newspapers, computers and the study centre team for guidance if they needed it. Interestingly when asked to name the resources available to them the first answer given in most cases was books, this was may be because these are the most obvious resources that can be seen in the environment as the study centre is the main library environment.


This task was deliberately positioned as one of the first question tasks in the whole information seeking activity. The book for this task was chosen specifically because it is not available online and with the hope that this would encourage participants to go to the shelves. However the participants were not aware that the book was not available online and as such we wanted to see the natural seeking habits for a book knowing that there are many options available. The tasks were held specifically in the study centre that contained the book, or in the adjacent study centre. All were made a ware that the resources they needed we available within both of the study centres and encouraged to use both where necessary.





The activity offered some interesting results


The Question:


Task: In the book Business L2 BTEC First (Pearson 2010) there is a quote on a yellow background in the chapter of financial forecasting asking “What is so special about the cash flows of seasonal businesses” on which page is it on and what is the image it is linked to?


For obvious reasons there was a strong correlation of correct answers with those who looked on the shelves. Those who searched on Google did not get the correct answer. This was to be expected as the answer was not available online. However, when looking deeper there were some interesting figures about the usage of tools to find a book.


Interesting also was the majority of those who searched on Google who visited many sources on the web still did not attempt to find the book on the shelves, even though in most groups they could see their peers using the book.




Beyond that of the correlation between searching Google and not finding the correct answer it was interesting to see how many had searched Amazon for the book and how many actually searched the e-book system instead of Google.


There was surprisingly low searching of the e-book system or Amazon in comparison to Google searching.


These figures suggest a very strong preference or reliance on Google to find what is needed.


There was no distinct pattern that formed to suggest these skills got better or worse through the ages and stages of education, only that those on courses associated as going up in academia actually found the right answer. Possibly suggesting the younger participants were not as confident finding information in a book and have a stronger reliance on the web.


These figures show an extremely low number of those using the college library catalogue to locate the book. However the later end of the chart indicated more use of the study centre teams to assist in finding the book.


The use of the study centre support also seems to correlate with the pattern of those with the correct answer, suggesting that assistance from the study centre team could be an important factor in effectively finding the correct information needed for study.


With the exception of the A-Level group between only approximately 15% - 45% looked on the shelf. 


Those who used the internet to find the book went to several sources to find the book as seen in this footage:




Those who used the web were asked later why they had chosen to search on the web. Some answered along the lines of ‘You can find anything in Google’, ‘Most books can be found online nowadays’ and other answers were more worrying indicating that not only is Google used for convenience but almost indicate a form of laziness or dismissal of books altogether. This issue was evident up to HND Level.





Another interesting finding was that some struggled with the question and even though guidance was offered they passed this question by because they didn’t understand it, which was a concern.  This issue was evident up to FE Vocational Level 3.



Others interpreted or changed the question to a much simplified form, alarmingly almost reading only a part of the question to make it easier.


Task 2: In the book Business L2 BTEC First (Pearson 2010) there is a quote on a yellow background in the chapter of financial forecasting asking “What is so special about the cash flows of seasonal businesses” on which page is it on and what is the image it is linked to?


(Example from Vocational Level 3)





This was a fascinating study that has indicated many areas that need improvement. With the exception of the Professional and A-Level groups there was an alarming level of participants that could not or would not find the answer in a book.


Is this a symptom of the ‘Google generation’ or is this an indication that learners today have not been given the right support to use the traditional resources such those on a shelf. Either way it is clear that this is an area that needs a large amount of input to ensure all learners are just as comfortable or knowledgeable using what is on the shelves as they appear to want to use other resources.


There did seem to be a correlation between the use of the study centre support, getting the book and then the right answer, clearly the study centres can have a huge role to play in advising and matching learners to the right resources. However this use was extremely low and needs to be more heavily promoted. It is also clear that there is little use or may be knowledge of the Heritage library system to locate the books on the shelves or awareness of the e-books system. This again maybe an issue of awareness, but certainly needs addressing.


Interesting was the correlation of those using the internet did not go on to find the book off the shelf, but instead some even re-interpreted or simplified the question. Is this a symptom of not understanding a question that refers to a book or is it that the question was too long? Considering this issue was evident up to Vocational Level 3 this is very concerning. If this had been evident in only the younger levels it could have been explained as younger learners finding a long question difficult, but this is also happening at level 3! Is this an indication that some learners can only work in very small bite size chunks or interpret the question to fit bite size internet search terms.


If as the graphs suggest, the younger participants were not as confident finding information in a book or have a stronger reliance on the web. If the influence of the web is actually real in younger learners then we need to address this issue now. These learners need to be given more support to blend both internet and traditional sources off the shelf. Most importantly as the results of correct answers ranged from 0% - approx 40% up to Vocational Level 3 this is alarmingly low. This is possibly highlighting the need for a more traditional or academic library input to underpin or shape their vocational studies before it is too late.


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