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Undergraduate students' interaction with online information resources in their academic tasks: A comparative study

Daqing He (School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Dan Wu (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Zhen Yue (School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Anna Fu (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Kim Thien Vo (School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 23 November 2012

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to identify the opinions of undergraduate students on the importance of internet‐based information sources when they undertake academic tasks.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a set of identified typical academic tasks for undergraduate students, three research questions were designed around the students' usage and views of information resources for completing these tasks. Web‐accessible questionnaires were used to collect data from participants in two universities in the USA and China, and the data were analyzed using quantitative methods, which included several statistic methods.

Findings

The results confirm that undergraduate students use different information resources for various academic tasks. In their tasks, online electronic resources including search engines are the most commonly used resources, particularly for complex academic tasks. Social networking sites are not used for the students' individual academic tasks, and traditional resources still play equal or more important roles in certain specific academic tasks. Students in collaborative tasks look for resources that make it easy to share documents. Participants from the two countries also exhibit interesting and important differences in their usage of information resources.

Originality/value

This study examines undergraduate students' usages and views of different information resources in their various academic tasks, and pays special attention to the impacts of being from their different countries. The study also considers both students' individual academic tasks and collaborative tasks. This study is an invaluable addition to the information seeking behaviour literature.

Keywords

Citation

He, D., Wu, D., Yue, Z., Fu, A. and Thien Vo, K. (2012), "Undergraduate students' interaction with online information resources in their academic tasks: A comparative study", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 64 No. 6, pp. 615-640. https://doi.org/10.1108/00012531211281715

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited