Web-based information behavior of high school learners in Oshana region, Namibia.
Shiweda, Tertu Ponhele.
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The aim of this study was to investigate the Web-based information behaviour of high school learners in Oshana Region in Namibia. The study also considerd the challenges faced by learners when searching the Web for information. For many years in the history of library and information services, print-based information had been the main source of information. However, since the emergence of the Internet and its rapid development, the Internet has provided an almost unlimited pool of Web-based resources, thus becoming a powerful source of information. The Web is now established as the main medium for the wide dissemination of information across the Internet. Within the academic context learners throughout the world are able to retrieve seemingly endless volumes of information across all disciplines and from all over the globe. It is therefore important to study the behavior of young people in relation to Web-based information because it is today one of their most important sources of knowledge. The findings of this study could assist in curriculum design, especially with regard to Basic Information Science (a subject offered in schools in Namibia), which incorporates information literacy and information-seeking skills development. In addition the study provides some insight into the information and computer literacy levels of learners and proposes ways of responding to these, thus assisting in further developing these important literacies. The study was guided by Wilson’s (1999) model of information behaviour. The model attempts to describe an information-seeking activity and suggests relationships among stages in information-seeking behaviour. The study has adopted a quantitative approach as its methodology. Data from a total of 160 respondents was collected using a questionnaire that consisted of both open ended and closed questions. The study’s research questions investigate how, where and when do Grade 12 learners access the Internet, for what purposes do Grade 12 learners use the Web when looking for information, how do Grade 12 learners search for information on the Web, what are the Web information searching skills of Grade 12 learners, what sources of information on the Web do Grade 12 learners use, how do Grade 12 learners evaluate and use information found on the Web, and what are the challenges faced by Grade 12 learners when searching the Web for information. The survey concentrated on Matric learners (grade 12) from Mweshipandeka HS and Gabriel Taapopi SSS in the Oshana region of Namibia. The results were analysed using SPSS as a tool for data analysis. An interpretation of the findings of this study shows that learners Web-searching skills are inadequate. Overall, there was a high level of familiarity with various Web-information sources such as search engines, although users limited themselves mainly to a few sources such as the search engines Google and Yahoo and the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Learners were not aware of Google's limitations and of the existence of academic, often library-funded, information sources such as databases and electronic journals. The present study found strong indications that grade 12 learners lack information-evaluation skills as well as acknowledgement skills and that they are not aware of what constitutes plagiarism. This appears to be a result of poor training in schools. However, the status of learner’s access to the Internet is good. Both schools involved in this study provide learners with physical access to the Internet.