UTILIZATION OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES AND UNDERGRADUATES’ RESEARCH AT AKWA IBOM STATE UNIVERSITY MKPAT ENIN AND MICHAEL OKPARA UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, UMUDIKE-ABIA STATE

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background of the Study

         Advances in computer application during the past few decades have brought radical changes in the way information is gathered, stored, organized, accessed, retrieved and utilized. The application of computers in information processing has brought several products and services to the scene. Libraries have witnessed a great metamorphosis in recent years both in their collection development and in their service structure. Over the last several years significant transformation has generally been noticed in library practices as print media is increasingly giving way to the electronic form of materials. Libraries as social institutions function as information centres, research, cultural, educational or conservational system.

         To Hoppock (2010) libraries are veritable repositories of knowledge. Haruna and Oyelekan (2010) argued that the academic set objectives of an institution can only be achieved if the library is adequately stocked with relevant and current resources. The duo rightly put that “libraries are adjudged to have achieved their mandates when their patrons are satisfied with their range of services” (p.12). By inference therefore if relevant, timely and adequate information resources are provided alongside needed services, libraries would in most cases, be effectively utilized.

         Effective utilization of electronic information resources has been a matter of concern to librarians, information scientists and educationists in general. Therefore, its underutilization will no doubt assume a worrisome dimension given that this is the age of information technology. The justification for embarking on this study is partly informed by the researchers’ preliminary observation that underutilization of electronic information resources could to a large extent depress the quality of teaching, learning and research.

Beyond this, academic libraries are meant to provide, promote and facilitate access to variety of information resources and range of service. Today, the library is conceived not only as an archive or reading room, but also as the foyer of living ideal that permeates and animate all aspects of national life. It is a power house of knowledge and researcher for all intellectual activities (Huruna and Oyelekan, 2010).

Electronic information resources have increasingly become an invaluable asset in education, research, teaching and learning. The role of electronic information resources in information handling, packaging, storing, retrieval and dissemination is at the root of any meaningful academic enterprise all over the world (Awolabi and Agboola, 2010) maintained that electronic resources especially the internet has transformed the conduct of research and teaching in academic institutions by allowing lecturers and students a wide range of opportunities for accessing accurate and timely information as well as providing a medium for communication of their findings to a wider audience.

Collaborating research efforts have also been much easier through electronic information resources. It is in this wise that Awolabi and Attama (2005) maintained that academic institution in developing countries especially in Africa cannot afford to ignore the potentials of electronic resources if their teaching, research and scholarship would make appreciable impact in the global information age. Peled and Rasty (1999) asserted that the introduction of electronic resources into academic environments particularly universities is almost predictably followed by rapid growth in awareness by students and academics. Tsako-mass and Papatheodurou (2006) stated that the transition from print to electronic media apart from resulting in a growth of electronic information has provided users with new tools and applications for information seeking and retrieval. Okello-Obura and Magara (2008) submitted that the major objectives of the adoption of re-resources are to facilitate access to international information resources via the internet as well as the timely dissemination of both local and international research output.

Improved students’ learning and research, ultimately depends heavily on the interplay of their full commitment and the functioning of some of their personality constructs. As Estrom (1996) asserted learning effort do not always result in successful learning outcomes because students inevitably face challenges, obstacles, interference and failure; and the most frequent outward sign of their failure a bed grade. The emergence of electronic information resources came with its own challenges. Information professionals have long sought to comprehend what factors are related in encouraging a person to utilize electronic information resources. Most recently, a number of researches have been carried out on those factors that decide student’s use of library’s print materials as opposed to electronic information resources. These inquiries assume an even greater importance in light of the fact that most students prefer print resources to find information they need; information that is unmediated electronically (Kibirge, 2000). Waldman (2003) stated that a vast and growing amount of information resources provide an atmosphere that encourages sharing of knowledge in the creative process and collaborative efforts among educationist, students and researches.

The importance of Information Technology (IT) is multi-faceted. Asides its role in affecting students’ learning and research, the development of internet and the web are constantly influencing the development of new modes of scholarly communication, their potential for delivering goods is quite vast, as they overcome successfully the geographical limitations associated with the print media (Sharma, 2009). Furthermore, the distribution time between product publication and its delivery has been drastically reduced (Sharma, 2009). Ozoemelem (2009) asserted that the internet can be used for efficient retrieval and meeting of information needs. This is very important for University libraries since most of them call for more and more research work. This important fact is convincing many libraries to move towards digital e-resources, which are found to be less expensive and more useful to distant learners who have limited time to access the libraries from outside by dial-up access to commonly available electronic resources mainly CD-ROM, and the internet  which are replacing the print media gradually.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The importance of resource centres in any academic institution cannot be overstated. A well established library is essential for any academic institution which serves as a focal point for teaching and research. A standard library is expected to provide standard information resources. Today, many University libraries in Nigeria are struggling to keep their place as the major source inquiry in the face of emerging digital technology. Digital technology has revolutionized not only in the way information is packaged, processed, stored and disseminated, but also how users seek and access information to ameliorate their academic status. Students share the blame as many of them show utter sense of disinterest in learning computer and its operations in solving their academic challenges. Most students are not even aware of other electronic information resources asides the internet which they use for social networking. This has greatly affected the students’ research quality and academic performance generally. This trend will continue except the factors responsible are unravelled and suggestions made for improvement. The fundamental problem for this study centres around undergraduates’ research in relation to; availability of electronic information resources and services available in academic institutions, students knowledge of information technology, frequency of electronic information resources utilization, undergraduates’ attitude towards utilizing electronic information resources and comparative advantage of electronic information resources over conventional sources of information.

1.3    Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study will be to investigate the relationship between undergraduates’ utilization of electronic information resources on research. The specific objectives of this study will be:

  1. To determine the relationship between availability of electronic information resources and undergraduates’ research.
  2. To determine the relationship between knowledge of Information Technology and undergraduates’ research.
  3. To determine the relationship between frequency of electronic information resource use and undergraduates’ research.
  4. To determine the relationship between undergraduates attitude toward electronic resource utilization and research.
  5. To establish the relationship between electronic information resources and conventional sources of information.

1.4    Research Questions

The study shall provide answers to the following research questions:

  • How does availability of electronic information resources relate with undergraduates’ research?
  • What relationship has knowledge of Information Technology with undergraduates’ research?
  • What relationship exists between frequency of electronic information resources use and undergraduates’ research?
  • Does undergraduates’ attitude towards using electronic information resources relate with their academic research?
  • How does electronic information resources relate with conventional sources of information?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The researcher in an attempt to provide answers to the above questions will test the following null hypotheses;

(i)     There is no significant relationship between availability of electronic information resources and undergraduates’ research.

(ii)     There is no significant relationship between knowledge of Information Technology and undergraduates’ research.

(iii)    There is no significant relationship between frequency of electronic information resources use and undergraduates’ research.

(iv)    There is no significant relationship between undergraduates’ attitude towards utilization of electronic information resources and research.

(v)    There is no significant relationship between electronic information resources conventional sources of information.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Findings from this research will assist undergraduates to improve their academic performance by utilizing electronic information resources in their studies and research. The study will also provide fundamental information to lecturers in every discipline on the need to use electronic information resources in teaching and assessment of students. Findings from this research will encourage authorities of the universities to establish and maintain automation units with internet connectivity in their academic libraries. Administrators of academic libraries will benefit from the research as the work promises to encourage them to acquire and develop adequate electronic resources collections for their libraries. Moreover, the research will encourage tertiary institutions on the need to establish electronic-based resource centres in every faculty in tertiary institutions. Finally, findings from this research will also provide additional contribution on the subject area of Information Technology in the field of librarianship.

1.7 Delimitation

This study will be delimited to the following independent variables; availability, knowledge of information technology, frequency of electronic information resources use and attitude in relation to undergraduates’ research. The study will be delimited to Akwa Ibom State University and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.

1.8    Definition of Terms

The following terms are hereby defined as used in the research work.

Attitude: Attitude in this context refers to the way students think, feel and behave towards use of electronic information resources. It is a mental state of readiness exerting directive or dynamic influence upon individuals’ response to all objects and situations with which it is related.

CD-ROM: It is an acronym for Compact Disc-Read Only Memory. It is used to store a very large amount of information that can be retrieved from international database using a micro computer.

Computer Literacy: This is the knowledge and ability to use computer and technology effectively for research purposes.

Electronic Information Resources: This is otherwise referred to as e-information resources. It refers to any of the several different categories of databases and machine-readable files, including electronic journals, the internet, CD-ROM etc. they are those resources that users access electronically via a computing network.Information Technology: This is the study and management of computer based information systems particularly software applications to perform a task.