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Motivation and the information behaviours of online learning students: the case of a professionally-oriented, graduate program Open Access


Other title
information behaviours
online learning
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Saumure, Kristie
Supervisor and department
Noels, Kimberly A. (Psychology)
Given, Lisa M. (Library and Information Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Erdelez, Sanda (School of Information Science and Learning Technologies)
Varnhagen, Connie (Psychology)
Adria, Marco (Extension)
Shiri, Ali (Library and Information Studies)
Department of Psychology and the School of Library and Information Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Online learning is a wonderful opportunity for students who cannot attend classes at conventional times and places to further their education. However, to some extent, accessing and sharing information is often quite different and potentially more difficult for this particular group (e.g., they may lack access to the campus library). For this reason, it is important to appreciate both how the students are seeking and sharing information in this environment, as well as what drives these information behaviours. Understanding these processes will better enable instructors, librarians, and other relevant parties to facilitate information access to this population (e.g., through in-depth database training and/or better technology tools). With that in mind, this research asked: 1) In what types of information seeking and sharing behaviours do online learning students engage? 2) What motivates online learning students to both seek and share information? 3) Can a theoretical model of students’ motivational orientations as they apply to their information behaviours be developed? To answer these questions, the Teacher-Librarianship by Distance Learning Program was examined as an in-depth case study. A grounded theory approach was employed to enable the development of the motivational theory. Data were collected exclusively through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, though with two distinct groups of people: 15 students and 3 key informants. The students were asked to reflect on their experiences accessing and sharing information in the online setting as well as what they thought drove their information behaviours, while the key informants provided context around the program itself and offered their insights into how they believe the students interact with information. Overall, this study revealed that both electronic and local resources are key to these students’ information seeking successes. Furthermore, the results suggest that personally or professionally relevant assignments provide students with the greatest motivation to seek information for their coursework. Students in this online learning environment were inclined to share professional, academic, and personal information with others because they believed that this online learning environment fostered a culture of sharing.
License granted by Kristie Saumure ( on 2010-06-09T14:29:30Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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