DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS INFLUENCING THE INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR OF TEACHERS IN UNIVERSITY
1.1 Background to the Study
Information is a stimulus that reduces uncertainty. It plays a significant role in our professional and personal lives (Ikoja-odongo & Mostert, 2006).The need to become informed and knowledgeable individuals leads to the process of identifying information needs. Information needs signifies a consciously identified gap in the knowledge available to an actor. Information need may lead to information-seeking and formulation of request for information (Ingwersen &Jarvelin, 2005). One of the concerns for information science is the information behaviour of different target groups as users of information (Wilson, 2000) because an effective information service depends largely on understanding user’s information behaviour (Hepworth, 2007).
According to Ingwersen and Jarvelin (2005) information behaviour is the human behaviour dealing with the generation, communication and use of information and other activities concerned with information, such as information-seeking behaviour interactive information retrieval.
Information-seeking behaviour therefore is the purposive seeking for information by individuals as a consequence of a need to satisfy goals. It is a broad term encompassing the ways individuals articulate their information needs, seek, evaluate, select and use information (Mustaffa, Ahmad & Baqi, 2012). Information-seeking is part of information behaviour as well as the totality of other unintentional or passive behaviours towards information (Case, 2007).Information-seeking may occur with a specific purpose in mind in order to address the information need. According to Johnson (2003) Information-seeking is described as the purposive acquisition of information from selected information carriers; these include information sources and channels for communication information. Al-suqri (n.d.) opined that majority of studies of information-seeking have only investigated different disciplines but only few has been given to the relationship between information-seeking and a diverse range of demographic and professional variables. Bitso (2012) revealed that demographic factors such as age, gender, profession, specialization, career stage and geographical location can influence teachers’ information-seeking behaviour. He further stated that it is important to establish the age of these teachers’, their teaching experience and the geographical location of their school. This is because older teachers rely on younger teachers to help them seek information from the internet; the inexperienced teachers rely on the experienced teacher to show them how and where they can easily gather information, since they have long enough in their area of specialisation; the teachers’ in urban schools have different information needs from teachers’ in rural school and this will affect their information-seeking behaviour. The demographic factors of this study comprise of the selected characteristics of the teachers in Delta and Rivers States such as gender, age, work experience and state. The need for information cuts across all spheres of life but the relevance of information in the education of young minds and their teachers cannot be overemphasised. Consequently, information-seeking is a primary activity of life and people seek information to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world around them (Karunarathna, 2008) .Teachers are constantly in dire need of information to build up or develop relevant knowledge. Haki Elimu (2008) stated that teaching is a special career as it gives rise to other profession. All other profession originate from the teaching profession as one cannot acquire knowledge and specific field skills without a teacher. He further explained that a “teacher” is an expert, who is capable of imparting knowledge that will help learners to build, identify and to acquire skills that will be used to face the challenges of life. This study regards teachers in University demonstration Secondary as experts who are employed with the sole aim of imparting knowledge on students in Secondary Schools that are operated in association with a University and may be owned by Federal government, state government and private organisation. According to Leckie, Pettigrew and Sylvain (1996) teachers are professionals and require the necessary information to carry out their work roles and tasks. They further stated that information needs arise from situations pertaining to specific tasks that are associated with one or more of the professionals work roles. Teachers task such as assessing students, preparing for lesson plan ,acquiring teaching aids and finding teaching methods can trigger their information need (Bitso,2012).Teachers information need are not constant and they can be influenced by factors such as age, gender, experience and context of the need (Haraittai & Hinnant,2006) and (Courtright,2007). Williams and Cole (2007a) found that teachers consult in service events, newspapers and reports and colleagues during their information-seeking. They rely on the sources that are within the school in other to save time. The main barrier of information-seeking from William and Cole (2007a) study was limited time. It was evident from Bitso and Fourie (2011) study that teachers were generally aware that they had a shortage of information and lacked various sources of information and they therefore made an effort to access it. Teachers’ awareness of the information source and the criteria they consider in selecting the information sources has a great effect on their information-seeking process. Teachers often check the contents of the book and the language of the book before using it. They also use their personal knowledge and experience to assess the authencity of the information from the sources that are familiar with and sources that they know will deliver the information on time and are accessible in terms of distance and cost. Teachers desired outcome is for the students to understand the topic, acquire knowledge and master the necessary skills they are been taught. Some teachers outcome the final result at the end of national examinations (Bitso & Fourie, 2011). The importance of understanding users` information needs and information-seeking behaviour in order to point the way to innovations in information services(Hepworth,2007) led to an investigation of the demographic factors influencing information seeking behaviour of teachers in university demonstration Secondary School in Delta and Rivers states.