Friday, June 28, 2013

Affect in Undergraduates' Information Behaviour #i3rgu

Another catchup post from the i3 #i3rgu conference in Aberdeen, Scotland. Heidi Julien presented a paper coauthored with Lisa M. Given: "I just felt angry...": Affect in Undergraduates' Information Behaviour as They Negotiate Research Expectations in the University. This was reporting some findings from a study which included pre and post-test of information literacy and qualitative data gathering from 10 students (through photovoice technique - asking students to take pictures of things that represented/reflected their experience with information, for reflective discussion - and interviews). Although the researchers did not ask directly about feelings, a lot of emotional responses emerged from the interviews. Mostly these were negative emotions e.g. "confusion, annoyance, anxiety, frustration, anger, resentment and feelings of being overwhelmed" - one quote "I don't even know where to start 'cause I've tried it and it's, like, scarey".

One notable thing that emerged was that there was a mismatch between the academics' expectations of the students, and their capability. Julien felt that there was a need to pay more attention to affect (feelings): both researchers and librarians. Librarians have to acknowledge the emotions the students are going through and reassure them that their experience is normal. Positive relationships with individual librarians emerged as important, so this has implications for staffing decisions.
At the end Julien mentioned the Geneva Emotion Wheel which can be used to help research participants talk about emotions they have experienced in specific situations.
A just-published paper which describes the process of testing the information literacy test for this research is:
Smith, J. et al. (2013) Information literacy proficiency: assessing the gap in high school students' readiness for undergraduate academic work. Library and information science research,  35(2), 88-96.
Photo by Sheila Webber: Aberdeen University library, June 2013

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