Internet-based information behaviour of high school learners in Ashanti region of Ghana.
Kankam, Philip Kwaku.
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The study examined the Internet-based information behaviour of high school learners in the Ashanti region of Ghana. It looked into the online information needs of learners, how they retrieve and evaluate online information sources as well as the challenges they face when accessing online information. The survey design was used to survey three public schools for the study. The three participating schools for the study were St. Louis senior high school (SHS), Effiduasi SHS and Simms SHS. The survey design allowed methodological pluralism for the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data for the study. The tools for data collection were a self-administered questionnaire for the learners and ICT teachers as well as semi-structured interview schedules used to interview the Heads of ICT departments (HICTDs) and librarians. Pre-testing of research instruments, triangulation of research data, cross-tabulation of results and consideration of ethical issues were carried out to ensure validity and reliability of the results. The quantitative data were analysed with SPSS and the qualitative data were analysed through the use of thematic content analysis. Wilson’s (1999) model of information behaviour and Ellis’s (1989) behavioural model of information seeking strategies were employed as the theoretical framework for the study. A hundred percent response rate was achieved from the learners, HICTDs and librarians, and 81.8% from the ICT teachers. The results showed that learners could access the Internet at their school’s computer laboratories. It was revealed that learners had both academic and personal online information needs, and were accessing multiple Internet sources to satisfy their online information needs with search engines as the predominant source and Google as the most popular. The study discovered that learners lacked the competencies needed for effective retrieval of online information. Learners were found not to apply advanced search options but relied on basic strategies like ‘keyword’ search. The study also found that learners’ evaluation of online sources was poor. Clearly, learners were not introduced to advanced search options and online evaluation criteria, and this affected their Internet-based information behaviour. The study highlighted that librarians were not playing the required role to develop learners’ information literacy skills. The major challenges learners faced when accessing information on the Internet were slow Internet connection and Internet access restrictions. The study recommends improvements in information literacy instructions and Internet infrastructure at schools for learners. The study has also developed a proposed guideline on Internet information literacy instruction based on the findings of the study to inform policy on the curriculum.