ATTITUDE OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS TOWARDS THE ACADEMIC USE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES IN TWO FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN ENUGU AND ANAMBRA STATES.

ATTITUDE OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS TOWARDS THE ACADEMIC USE OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES IN TWO FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES IN ENUGU AND ANAMBRA STATES.

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ABSTRACT

This study examined the attitude of undergraduate students towards academic use of electronic information resources in two federal universities in Nigeria, specifically University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in Enugu and Anambra states respectively. Six research questions guided the study. Descriptive survey design was employed for the study and the population consisted of all registered undergraduate students of U.N.N and N.A.U. with a total of 35,854 from both universities, out of which seven hundred and twenty students were sampled. Stratified random sampling technique was used for the study. The instrument used for data collection was questionnaire. The questionnaire has 61 items. Descriptive statistics including frequency tables, percentages and mean were used to answer research questions.  The finding revealed that: undergraduate students’ use of electronic information resources enhances their access to a wider range of information, most of them prefer to use internet for their academic work, and they prefer to use phones and laptops as their sources of electronic information resources. They are motivated to use electronic resources because they provide quick access to information. The study also revealed that some electronic resources like CD ROM, Library portals, wire radiophone, news group, and online public access catalogue (OPAC) were not popular among the students. However, the students face the problem of limited access to computer terminals, slow internet connectivity, irregular power supply, lack of IT knowledge to effectively utilize the electronic information resources services, as well as inadequate time to access electronic information resources due to pressure from academic work. Some of the strategies for improving the academic use of electronic resources by the students include giving them more education on the use of electronic information resources, provision of more computers in the university libraries, provision of free internet connectivity to students within the university and providing constant power supply among other suggestions. 


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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study    

University education is the process of teaching, learning and training in an institution at the highest level of education where one can get a Degree or do research to improve knowledge and gain skills. Also, university education is a formal learning, or gaining of formal educational qualifications from the institutions at the highest level of education where one can study for a Degree, (Krejsler, 2006). University education includes teaching, research and social services activities, and it includes both the undergraduate level and the Postgraduate level. University education generally results in the receipt of certificates, diplomas, and academic degrees.  In Nigeria, universities can be privately owned, state or federal government funded.  The objectives of university education include: developing reasoning about perennial questions, mastering the methods of scientific inquiry, cultivating the intellect, creating positive change agents, developing spirituality, and fostering a democratic society. University education is very important to national economies as a source of trained and educated personnel for the economy. Universities are hubs of knowledge and information services in their institutions. These hubs require modern technology which has advanced greatly. With this advancement, information needs of   students have also changed (Chen and Wu 2009).

Information is the pivot on which the survival of any society rest. It remains the major ingredient in taking decision, and assist in reducing the degree of uncertainty. Information and its use are as old as man. Indeed without information, there cannot be communication, (Olatokunbo and Asiru, 2011). Information can be written document or oral.             Information resources are those materials which provide information for learning, teaching and research such as books, journals, encyclopedias, films or pictures. According to Bennett (2003) the revolution in information technology is changing information delivery in education. Information and communication technologies are, a diverse set of tools and resources used to communicate, create, disseminate, store, and manage information. The technology embrace has led to the proliferation of electronically available information resources.

           Electronic Information resources is defined as an information retrieval system operating with a computer terminals, communication lines and links, models, disk drives, and databases in machine –readable form that are accessible in an online, interactive mode (Harper,2006). Electronic information sources according to Ekwelem, Okafor, and Ukwuoma (2009), may be defined as information sources that are available and can be accessed electronically through computer network facilities, such as online library catalogue, the internet, the world wide web, digital libraries, government portals and websites, CD-ROM databases, online academic databases such as Medline online, or commercial bases such as LEXIS and NEXIS.    Electronic information resources can therefore be defined as various infrastructures used in the creation, processing, storage, dissemination of information and various services rendered by these infrastructures.   The last few years have seen a number of changes in the University sector. These changes necessitated the importance of electronic resources in this age and they include the following: Rapid growth in undergraduate students’ numbers with little or no relative increase in the number of library and information services staff and inflation in the cost of printed materials. Growing number of academic publications, fall in  library budgets as a percentage of the total institutional budgets, changes in the teaching and learning methods, towards a greater emphasis on  the undergraduate students’ centered learning, and technological developments. 

          Undergraduate students are university students who are studying for a first Degree in a university. Undergraduate students according to the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language (2007) are university students who have not yet received a Bachelors’ or similar Degree. Undergraduate students need electronic information resources because of their flexibility, dynamism in information retrieval, storage and processing. Electronic information resources are important to undergraduates because they need to have access to timely, accurate and relevant academic information (Adomi, Omodeko Otolo, 2004).     Computer services like internet and other electronic sources have greatly increased the speed of searching out information. They have brought considerable relief to students in universities, as students can conveniently walk into any library that has its holdings on the internet and have access to unlimited information sources (Ezeji, 2008)

      Electronic information sources offer many advantages. According to Brophy, (1993) an advantage of electronic resources is that the information needed can be delivered from the most appropriate source to the user. The user can re-specify his or her needs dynamically. The information is obtained when it is wanted, and so becomes just in time,  In addition, the user selects only the information needed to answer the specific question and  the information is only stored if the user wishes. Electronic information can therefore provide a number of advantages over print based resources. Electronic information resources are often faster than consulting print indexes, especially when searching retrospectively. They are straight forward when wishing to use a combination of keywords open and open the possibility of searching multiple files at one time. Electronic resources can be printed and searches saved to be repeated at a later date. They are updated more easily and more often than conventional resources. One main advantage, especially for those with limited time to access the library and distance learners, is their availability from outside the library by dial-up access. Mobile phones and the internet are seen as easier and more convenient in the co ordination of activities, for example, in planning, seeking information and communication.                  

           Electronic sources also generate opportunities to find new interests, activities and friends which might be positive in terms of one’s quality of life. Electronic resources provide an access to unlimited sources of information through search engines, which are continuously being upgraded to provide efficient ways to help users find what they want. The electronic equivalent offers the ability to integrate text with charts, graphs, photographs, sound, video and other forms of multimedia.  The use of electronic information resources as an extension of the classroom or as a vehicle for higher education is increasingly widespread. The internet is now being used as a powerful supplement to the traditional ways that students study and learn in lecture halls, tutorials, laboratories and in preparing of assignments. These resources could be stored electronically, thereby saving the space, reducing the risk of lost, theft, or damage and reducing costs significantly (Dadzie, 2005). Electronic resources have much to offer, but their utility depends on attitudes of users, how they feel about them.

        Attitudes are ways that people think and feel about something. Attitudes are inclinations and feelings, prejudices or bias, preconceived notions, ideas, fears, and convictions about any specific topic (Taiwo, 1998). Attitudes represent the conceptual value of these technologies in the minds of students and not the values of the technologies themselves. Positive attitudes are fundamental in implementing new technologies. Students constitute one part of society who is fortunate to have access to a variety of electronic information resources. Universities use considerable proportions of their budgets to provide this technology for their students to assist in the learning process. The question then is what is the level of use of this type of resources? How do students themselves feel about various issues surrounding electronic resources, which may require the acquisition of new skills to utilize them effectively, and whether attitude change depends upon the availability of these resources?  Little is known about student’s attitude towards this form of information provision and without a better understanding; it is difficult for service providers to know if they are meeting the needs of students effectively.

            The University of Nigeria is a federal university located at Nsukka, Enugu, Nigeria. Founded in October 1960, the University of Nigeria Nsukka (U.N.N) has two campuses- Nsukka, and Enugu, Enugu state, Nigeria. It is a premier institution of higher learning in Nigeria with over 40,000 enrolled students, and 21,148 as registered undergraduate students.(Registrars department 2011). It is one of the oldest and prestigious universities in Nigeria. U.N.N. has fifteen faculties offering regular, sandwich, and part-time programmes. There have been a number of changes in the University of Nigeria, including the way in which information is provided to the university community. The university through a number of supported programmes has embarked on electronic provision of information to facilitate study programmes and research.  The transition from print to electronic medium, apart from resulting in a growth of electronic information, has provided users with new tools and applications for information seeking. The University of Nigeria recognizes the need to provide students, researchers and faculty members with electronic information facilities by provision of modern computer laboratories or cyber cafes equipped with advanced computer databases and internet connectivity. Access to EIS was first introduced into UNN in 1995 by the university’s Management Information System (MIS), a computerized information management innovation that was initiated and sponsored by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Subsequently, the old university computing center was rehabilitated with advanced modern facilities including internet connectivity. The university library has also been digitalized to cater for the growing access needs of students. Also, other private owned commercial cyber cafes such as AFRIHUUB, E-Network have been established to augment the internet access facilities provided by the university. For this reason, students’  use their personal computers, as well as computer services provided by the various organizations, business centers and cyber cafes as an alternative to support their academic work.

         Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka is also a federal university in Nigeria. Its main campus is located in Awka, Anambra state capital and a second campus is at Nnewi. It is one of the twenty five federal universities which are overseen and accredited by the National University Commission.  Nnamdi Azikiwe University came into being as an offshoot of the defunct Anambra state university of Technology (ASUTECH).  In 1991, following the split of the old Anambra state into Anambra and Enugu states, the Awka and Nnewi campuses of the former ASUTECH were combined into Nnamdi Azikiwe university by the Anambra state –Edict No.5 of  November 26.1991, and which was later taken over by the Federal Government from Anambra state.

            Nnamdi Azikiwe University (N.A.U.) was taken over by the federal Government by Decree No.34 of July 15, 1992. Nnamdi Azikiwe University has a population of twenty –four thousand, seven hundred and six (24,706) for the full-time, and twelve thousand, four hundred and seventy- six (12,476) students for part-time programmes (Registras department 2011). The university offers a diverse range of courses of study, including Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Management sciences, Medicine and surgery, Social sciences, Law African languages, European languages, and Education. The university also boasts of quality education, academic stability and a credible academic culture including a digital library service for growth of electronic information, and new tools and applications for information seeking and retrieval.

Statement of the Problem

            The emergence and rapid growth of electronic information resources and their application, especially   in universities, has continued to revolutionize the pattern and scope of learning and research.  Institutions of higher learning in Nigeria must maintain and support the instructional and research needs of their faculties and students. Having ready access to varieties of information is essential in any university. A typical Nigerian student like his counterparts in America wants specific bits of information as quickly as possible. However, cost of periodicals and indexes continue to mount, publishing costs continue to grow, making the cost of books higher. The solution to this however is the use of electronic resources which sometimes are free or are sometimes open to access without subscription. 

               Despite the availability of electronic resources and their benefits to university education, their  effective use in Nigerian universities are hampered by various factors, which include poor funding of universities, high cost of IT equipment, high rate of foreign exchange, and poor telecommunication infrastructure.(Fatoki,2004; Adeoti-Adekeye, 1997). In all the efforts made by different Nigerian universities towards automated information retrieval, it appears that very little progress has been made by the undergraduate students. This shows that there is still a gap to be filled in order to achieve a maximum utilization of these electronic resources.  Previous researchers have carried out studies on the attitude of librarians and research scholars towards usage of electronic resources, but little or nothing is known about undergraduate students’ attitudes toward this form of information provision. Without a better understanding, it is difficult to plan and execute meaningful strategic measures to mitigate the problems and to know if the needs of undergraduate students are being met effectively. It will help the university and library planners or the library and information science educators to rethink on how to improve on electronic resource access and utilization. Hence, there is the need for this study in order to contribute to the limited information on the students’ attitude of electronic information resources, and how it can help to improve them academically.  

      Purpose of the Study

            The main purpose of this study is to find out the students’ attitude towards electronic information resources in University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (NAU).The specific objectives of the study are to:

1. Examine the attitude of undergraduate students to the use of electronic information resources.

2. Find out what electronic information resources the undergraduate students of the two universities under study prefer to use for academic purposes.

3. Determine the motivational factors for using electronic resources for information retrieval.

4. Establish the frequency of use of the preferred electronic resources by the students.         

 5. Identify the problems associated with the use of electronic resources for learning and research

6. Proffer the strategies towards improvement on the academic use of electronic resources by the undergraduate students in the university.

Research Question

            This research was conducted to find answers to the following research questions:                             

1. What is the attitude of the undergraduate students to the use of Electronic information    resources?

2. What electronic information resources do undergraduate students of U.N.N and N.A.U. prefer to use for academic purposes?

3. What factors motivate the use of electronic resources for information retrieval?

4. What is the frequency of use of the preferred electronic resources by the students?

5. What are the problems associated with the academic use of electronic resources by the undergraduate students?

6. What are the strategies for improving the academic use of electronic resources by the students in the two universities?

 Significance of the Study

            It is hoped that information derived from this study will benefit both the university administrators, students and university libraries at large. This will make a vital contribution to the already existing knowledge and understanding of electronic information resources and their effects on university.

            It is expected that the result will be useful to the university administrators in planning for the future thereby providing access to internet and laboratories for students to learn more.

            By finding out what the  students think and feel towards electronic information resources, it will enable the  university libraries as an information service provider and their  parent institutions to  structure library services in such a way that they focus not only on collections, but also on the needs of the students, to develop facilities that recognize, embrace and encourage the collaborative, faster and social nature of learning, then seek for ways towards enhancing their services to the users, thereby making library become more effective in provision of their roles especially in this era where digital and electronic libraries complement and in some cases replace traditional libraries.

            On the other hand, undergraduate students will benefit from the study because when computer laboratories are built and more computers are provided by the university administrators it will create avenues for students to have access to internet quickly and gain more information at reduced expense which in turn improve their knowledge and good planning by the university libraries will  create a learning environment that empower students  continuous learning, free choice learning which enable them to turn information into knowledge  in the university. In addition, on the side of time management, it offers a better opportunity to those who want to optimize time for private studies.

 Scope of the Study

            The study is aimed at finding out the undergraduate students’ attitudes towards the academic use of electronic information resources in two federal universities. The study will cover two federal universities in Enugu and Anambra states. They are university of Nigeria, Nsukka and Nnamdi Azikiwe university, Awka.     




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