Information Seeking Behaviour of Polytechnic Students: The Case of Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana Nigeria
Kehinde Abayomi Owolabi
Mutair Afolabi Jimoh
Sylvester Chinedu Okpeh
Polytechnics were established in Nigeria in the late 1970s as a way of providing Nigerians with another level of tertiary institutions besides the university system. Technical education helps produce middle-level human resources for the nation's economy (Tella, Owolabi, and Attama 2008). Attama (2005), supports that view and also states that polytechnics helps in the quest for technological and economic growth. These objectives may be hampered by the way some students seek and organize academic information. Ajiboye and Tella (2007) maintain that the way students organize their learning and search for information is crucial to their overall performance.
Information is vital to the development of human society. Uwem (1990) defines information as data that have been subjected to some processing functions and is capable of answering a user's query. Mabawonku (2005), highlights ways in which students can seek for information, which include colleagues, the Internet, library, friends, family members, recognized institutions, agencies, and private organizations. Eskola (1998) defines information as something which students need during their studies.
Having examined the meaning of information, it is necessary to define information-seeking behaviour. Uhegbu (2007) describes information -seeking behaviour as the way in which information users conduct themselves when searching for information. Ajiboye and Tella (2007) agree when they describe information-seeking behaviour as the way and manner people gather and sought for information for their personal use, knowledge updating and development. Uhegbu (2007) describes the factors affecting choice of information, particularly among students, which includes course of studies, level, age, and religion.
Specific investigation into information-seeking behaviour of students is of great importance to this study. The study by Barakutty and Salih (1999) cited by Owolabi (2007) at Calicut University, India, shows that the students used the Internet as the major source of information for their academic development. Kakai, Ikoja-Odongo, and Kigongo–Bukenya (2004) conducted a study on the information-seeking behaviour of undergraduate students of Makerere University, Uganda, and discovered that the students seek the assistance of the library staff and rely on textbooks as their major source of information. Fidazani (1998) conducted a study at University of Botswana, Gaboroneon the information needs and information-seeking behaviour of graduate students. Findings revealed that the students relied on library books, textbooks, and journals. Ajiboye and Tella (2007) conducted a research on university undergraduates' information-seeking behaviour: 12 percent of the students required information for their personal development, while 11.25 percent claimed that they sought information on health matter, and 64.1 percent sought for information for their academic development, 9.3 percent to secure employment.
Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic was established in 1981 as the first Federal Polytechnic in Southeast Nigeria. It began on the present site of Federal Government College Okposi, Ebonyi State, Nigeria and moved to its permanent site in Unwana in 1987. The polytechnic operates five schools in eighteen departments and has programs leading to National Diploma (ND) and Higher National Diploma (HND) in sciences, engineering, and humanities. The library has 15,000 books and 250 serial titles.
Frequency and simple percentage tables were used to present the data as shown below.
Table 1: Information required by the student
The first question sought to know the various types of information required by the students.
Table 2: Major sources of information
Table 2 sought to identity various sources of obtaining information by the students.
Table 3: Factors influencing choice of information.
Table 3 sought to various factors that influence choice of information.
Table 4: Level of satisfaction
Table 4 sought to know the level of satisfaction of information obtained by students
One of the important findings of this study is that respondents had specific uses for information, which supported the finding of Ajiboye and Tella (2007). The study shows that students use information primarily for academic purposes.. This finding agrees with Kakai, Ikoja-Odongo, and Kigongo-Bukenya (2004), when they observed that students' information seeking behaviors promote academic excellence. Ajiboye and Tella (2007) also support this finding. Textbooks are the major source of Information for students, which corroborates the findings of Fidzani (1998).
It was also discovered that level of study has a great influence on students' choice of information, since the curriculum goes from simple to complex. Another finding revealed that students are satisfied with information obtained in the library which substantiates the claim of Obasuyi (2004).
Conclusion and Recommendations
Certain conclusions can be drawn from the study: students at the Polytechnic know the importance of information, given the fact that a majority of them seek information to improve their academic performance.
In view of the foregoing, the following recommendations are made:
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