Monday, June 20, 2011

i3 report: young people's experience of information #i3_conference

The next report from the i3 conference at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen This paper continued the theme of young people's information behaviour.
Marian Smith presented the paper co-authored by Mark Hepworth on Young people: A phenomenographic investigation into the ways they experience information. This was her doctoral research. She was identifying the qualitatively different ways in which they experienced information. She had some focus groups to familiarise herself with the young people's world. She conducted 18 long interviews, and short interviews from the other participants, and collected 41 drawings from 23 young people from year 7 and 18 from older students (the interviews started with the young people doing a drawing of "information").
There were six categories:
- "knowledge of sources of information" (information resides in the sources). It can be noted that there were a range of sources experienced (e.g. family members), and no awareness of information use.
- "receiving information" (information is experienced information as something that was received): this might be receiving knowingly (e.g. at school) or encountered.
- "process of finding information" (information is experienced as something that is found). This might not be a planned process, and it was mostly unsupported (i.e. they weren't being educated to develop a process, and in school they might usually "receive" information)
- "store of unprocessed information" (information was experienced as something that was internalised, stored and unprocessed: it wasn't necessarily understood, but it could be retrieved). This was associated with factual information, and regurgitation of information e.g. for school tasks.
- "processing information" (information was something processed): they said that they were interpreting, seeing information in a new way, and linking up with other information. Participants mentioned motivation e.g. projects they were interested in.
- "use of information" (information is experienced as something that is used); this included information shared or passed on.
Insights that Smith highlighted included that processing of information is not always considered important, and other implications for teaching information literacy.
Discussion afterwards included the extent of similarity and difference between different phenomenographic studies of information/ information literacy, the issue of whether information literacy education should pay more attention to these conceptions (unsurprisingly, I think they should) and (from the previous paper) people's news habits and the attachment and affective issues to do with print news.
Photo by Sheila Webber: wild rose, Garthdee campus, Aberdeen, June 2011.

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