Collaborative information behaviour (CIB) of undergraduates in selected universities in Tanzania.
This study investigated collaborative information behaviour (CIB) of undergraduate students through collaborative learning assignments in selected Tanzanian universities. The study also examined the challenges that undergraduate students encountered during collaborative information seeking, sharing and use and the applicability of Wilson’s (1996) model of information behaviour in collaborative learning context. The study population comprised of second year students from the departments of Botany and Zoology of University of Dar es Salaam, fourth year students of architecture from Ardhi University and second year students studying forestry from Sokoine University of Agriculture. Teaching staff from respective departments and academic librarians from respective university libraries were also polled. Purposive sampling technique was used to select the sample for the study. The findings indicated that students’ CIB is highly contextualized and is shaped by learning tasks objectives, tasks requirements, students’ domains of study and collaborative learning environments. Interactions with human sources of information as well as, observation of natural and human-made information objects are the dominant information behavioural seeking practices of students. Furthermore, findings revealed that students’ information sharing behaviour is both voluntary and involuntary and is motivated by geographic proximity, trust among group members, shared learning goals, tasks division and group norms. The research findings also suggest that information use in collaborative learning involved processing of raw information, making sense of information, applying and sharing of information and collaborative construction of new knowledge. The study makes contributions in terms of theory, policy and practice. The contributions include a proposed model of students’ collaborative information behaviour, providing policy directions to policy makers to create programs and guidelines that can be used to strengthen Academic-Community-Partnership for information and knowledge sharing and introduction of a blended focus group discussion technique that combines information literacy and group interview. In light of the results of the study recommendations for universities, university libraries, academic librarians and members of teaching staff are provided. The recommendations are related to developing information infrastructure that supports different collaborative information behavioural activities, the effective use of indigenous knowledge of local people during students’ field work and the establishment and strengthening of Academic-Community-Partnership (ACP). The recommended future research areas include collaborative information behaviour (CIB) in virtual collaborative learning environment and how students use natural environment as the source of information during collaborative learning.