International students using online information resources to learn

Author/s: Hilary E Hughes,, PhD
Availability: Open Access
Type: Thesis
Year: 2009

Abstract: This qualitative study views international students as information-using learners, through an information literacy lens. Focusing on the experiences of 25 international students at two Australian universities, the study investigates how international students use online information resources to learn, and identifies associated information literacy learning needs. An expanded critical incident approach provided the methodological framework for the study. Building on critical incident technique, this approach integrated a variety of concepts and research strategies. The investigation centred on real-life critical incidents experienced by the international students whilst using online resources for assignment purposes. Data collection involved semi-structured interviews and an observed online resource-using task. Inductive data analysis and interpretation enabled the creation of a multifaceted word picture of international students using online resources and a set of critical findings about their information literacy learning needs. The study’s key findings reveal: • the complexity of the international students’ experience of using online information resources to learn, which involves an interplay of their interactions with online resources, their affective and reflective responses to using them, and the cultural and linguistic dimensions of their information use. • the array of strengths as well as challenges that the international students experience in their information use and learning. • an apparent information literacy imbalance between the international students’ more developed information skills and less developed critical and strategic approaches to using information • the need for enhanced information literacy education that responds to international students’ identified information literacy needs. Responding to the findings, the study proposes an inclusive informed learning approach to support reflective information use and inclusive information literacy learning in culturally diverse higher education environments.

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