EXAMINING THE INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS OF NAVRONGO CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIES.

Author:Pwadura, Joana A.
Position:Report
 
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  1. Introduction

    The business of higher education is knowledge-driven which is dependent on information. Knowing how to access information therefore is very important. Information seeking behaviour can be understood as the way and manner people search for and utilize information for personal use, knowledge updating and development. It is the drive that opens up access to information, data and knowledge utilisation and dissemination.

    Universities across the world are an embodiment of knowledge processing and dissemination inherent in their academic and research programmes but these activities will not be possible without the availability and the use of necessary information. It is an indisputable fact that there is abundance of information. It is also common knowledge that this important commodity does not exist in a vacuum because it is needed by everybody but the reasons, degree and depth of its use vary. Where there is an information need it presupposes a vague awareness of something missing thus initiating a search to locate and find that information which eventually contributes to understanding and meaning.

    Basically information is transformed into knowledge when it is interpreted and applied to a specific situation. In the academic environment, information comes from different sources and formats aided by a resourceful library, knowledgeable faculty and adequate infrastructure. However, students also need to understand their needs, know where and how to locate relevant information easily to satisfy those needs that serve as catalysts for enhancing their learning. It is not only important for students to understand and able to gather and organize their information needs for academic purposes but also for their overall benefits and for promoting innovation and change for national development. It is said that, "students become experts at what is required and expected of them within the boundaries of the classroom, but what happens when they need to take what is learned in school and use it in the reality of their lives?"(Kozol, 2005).

    The maze of information out there particularly with the advent of the Internet and the constant improvement in communications technologies does seem to make searching for information an easy task nowadays. But is it really the case? The fact that there is abundance of information does not necessarily mean students can automatically find needed information without making informed judgment. Kuhlthau (2012), a renowned researcher into information seeking behaviours of students explains that "advances in information technology that opened access to vast assortment of sources have not eased the students' dilemma and may have intensified the sense of confusion and uncertainty until a focus is formed to provide a path for seeking meaning".

    There are a lot of studies that have been carried on at the Navrongo Campus of UDS but none of the studies so far touches on the subject of this research. This study therefore is significant because it will not only address the foregone concerns but also provide a window for the promulgation of policy interventions for improving knowledge processing, use and dissemination as a life-long skill among students and thereby increasing the visibility and competitive edge of the University. This paper focuses on the information seeking behaviour (ISB) of undergraduate students of the Navrongo Campus of the University for Development Studies (UDS).

    1.1 Problem statement

    Whereas a knowledgeable faculty, adequate infrastructure and information resources serve as catalysts for enhancing students' learning, they also need to understand and be able to gather and organize their information needs not only for academic purposes but their overall benefits and also for promoting innovation and change for national development. However, students' 'lack of knowledge of information search processes makes information seeking an odious task which often leaves them frustrated and dissatisfied with search results. Students therefore need a learning environment that enables them to learn how to learn by becoming aware of their learning process.

    Different approaches have been used to explain or examine the information seeking process. The purpose of this study is to provide insight into the importance of preparing students through guided inquiry which will give meaning and understanding to the students' information seeking behaviour. The ultimate aim is to improve the standard and quality of education and students' performance in the university and to the eventual benefit of society. This is intended to be seen as a gateway to further understanding the information research process thereby contributing to knowledge.

  2. The Study Area

    The University for Development Studies (UDS) was established in May 1992 to run a multi-campus system by the Provisional National Defense Council (P.N.D.C.) Law 279. It became the fourth of ten state-owned universities in Ghana and the first public University in Northern Ghana. Academic work started in September 1993 in Tamale with the admission of thirty-nine students into the Faculty of Agriculture (FOA), Nyankpala. The university gradually expanded into its present four campuses in three of the ten administrative regions of Ghana, namely: Northern, Upper East, and Upper West regions, respectively. It runs eight faculties (Integrated Development Studies, [FIDS], Planning and Land Management [FPLM], and Law and Business Studies [FELBS] all located at Wa in the Upper West Region; Agriculture Technology [FOA], Renewable Natural Resources [FRNR], and Agribusiness and Communication Sciences are located at Nyankpala, near Tamale in the Northern Region; and Applied Sciences [FAS] and Mathematical Sciences [FMS] at Navrongo in the Upper East Region), one School (School of Medicine and Health Sciences [SMHS]), and the Faculty of Education are located in Tamale with two centers of excellence (Graduate School and Center for Continuing Education and Inter Disciplinary Research [CCEIR], also in Tamale). The University runs undergraduate and postgraduate programs in the Social Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Agricultural Technology, Medicine, and Allied Health Sciences, as well as in the Applied Sciences in the various campuses (http://www.uds.edu.gh). Established as a pro-poor University its uniqueness is in the Third Trimester Field Training Programme (TTFTP) where students are sent to live in deprived communities to gather first hand information that can influence policy making to improve livelihoods.

    The Navrongo Campus (NC) which is the focus of this study is located in the Kasena-Nankana Municipality about thirty kilometers away from the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatnaga and situated along the Kolgo-Naga road between the St John Bosco's University College of Education, and the Navrongo Senior High School (Navasco) as in Pwadura, Asapeo and Plockey (2017). The Campus first started in 1995 as the Faculty of Integrated and Development Studies (FIDS) with fifty-nine students transferred from Tamale. Later in 2002 FIDS was relocated to Wa in the Upper West region to pave way for the creation of the Faculty of Applied Sciences (FAS) same year with a hundred and thirty students. Subsequently, in 2010 the Faculty of Computational and Mathematical Sciences (FCMS) which later changed to the Faculty of Mathematical Sciences (FMS) was also created. The Campus saw a gradual increase in student intake over the period depicted in table 1. As at September, 2013 the total number of students admitted was 9541 while the number of teaching staff was 111 according to information provided in the University's 15th Congregation Basic Statistics publication (UDS, 2014). The two Faculties run mainly science-bias undergraduate and post-graduate courses in Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, Biology and Earth Sciences by FAS whiles Statistics, Computer Science, Actuarial Sciences, Mathematics and others are also run by FMS.

    Thompson & Pwadura (2014) have noted that, the Library plays an enhanced role in the fulfillment of the University's mission with a Central Library at Nyankpala Campus, SMHS Library and the Graduate School Library all in Tamale as well as the Navrongo and Wa campus libraries. The libraries are stocked with books and other materials to reflect the courses taught in the satellite campuses with professional librarians to provide the necessary information to lecturers and students and to facilitate teaching, Downloaded learning, research, and knowledge dissemination needs of clientele in the easiest, fastest, and most comprehensive way possible

    The Navrongo Campus Library serves two science-based faculties namely, FAS and FMS and therefore operates in tandem with the faculties to fulfill the Mission and Vision of the University. Its collections, book and non-book materials as well as other activities are geared towards supporting teaching, learning and research. The library currently has a total collection of seven thousand and eighty-one (7,081) books, five thousand eight hundred and sixteen (816) serials as well as providing access to a wide range of e- resources. A professional Head librarian with ten senior and junior staff compliment the staff list who are always available to serve users of the library in the most professional manner.

  3. Literature review

    3.1 Perspectives on Information and Information Seeking Behaviour

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