The characteristics and development of young people's information universes

Shenton, Andrew (2002) The characteristics and development of young people's information universes. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Recent developments towards "the learning society" have increased the importance of youngsters acquiring skills in finding information. Research, however, has not kept pace with this progress and relatively little attention has been directed to young people's information universes. This study is an attempt to gain greater understanding of this area. The work draws on the ideas of youngsters themselves in order to explore these universes and to examine how the universes develop during childhood. Three particular aspects have been selected for scrutiny: young people's understanding of the term, "information", their information needs and the methods they employ to satisfy these needs.
Essentially qualitative in nature, the study sampled 188 youngsters from six schools within a town in north-east England. Participants ranged from four- to eighteen-year-olds. The work is unique in using the ideas of youngsters of such a variety of ages to investigate, within a single inquiry, the three nominated areas. The main data collection methods were those of the focus group and individual interview, although some data was also elicited from documents.
The youngest informants typically understood information to be facts obtained from sources such as books and computers but teenagers were more open and disparate in their beliefs. A diversity of information needs was revealed. They embraced areas such as advice, affective support and skill-related, subject and consumer information. Situational factors pertaining to, for example, the amount and up-to-dateness of the information required were important considerations for some individuals. The approaches taken by informants in response to their needs were also varied, and ranged from direct observation to the exploitation of recognised sources, including books and the Internet. Needs frequently went unmet and, for many youngsters, problems during the information-seeking process were common. Even when attempting to use other people, participants were often unable to gain the information they sought. In order to help youngsters develop more effective ways of finding information, considerable changes are needed, within schools, especially. Some changes involve modifications to existing practices but others demand that the whole ethos of the learning environment be rethought.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis digitised by the British Library e-thesis online service, EThOS.
Subjects: P100 Information Services
X200 Research and Study Skills in Education
Department: University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2019 15:30
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 14:54

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