Doctoral Posters #21-24
21. T. Patrick Milas
Florida State University, College of Information
The Role of Faith in Information Behavior: A Study of Theology Research
Purpose/Objective of study: This study explores the impact of individuals’ religious faith on information behavior, particularly information use. Religious intolerance continues to stratify barriers between communities, globally and domestically. The significance of faith in decision-making is not only evident in fundamentalist violence abroad, but also in Pres. Bush’s professed faith-based approach to decision-making. While the role of Bush’s faith in his information behavior affects political policy-making, faith’s role in information behavior is germane to many more individuals’ roles and social/institutional networks; it warrants the systematic investigation of faith’s impact on user-defined relevance of information. This study’s purpose is exploring problems in information action faced by the dichotomy between the faith-related and secular research expectations transparent in the information sources employed in situated thesis writing.
Sample and Setting: One area where profession of faith substantially affects information needs due to institutional policy is in graduate studies of theology and religion. This study is first concerned with the faith-related and secular sources from a purposive sample at the research setting of Harvard University, where sources inform the thesis process of the two mutually exclusive degrees – Master’s of Divinity and Master’s of Theological Studies – that prepare future ministers and future academicians.
Method: To operationalize the variables of degrees, this study adopts Dervin’s revised sense-making theory with its barrier component. At the 2006 Annual Meeting of ASIS&T, Dervin confirmed the conceptualization of degree type as a barrier in her theoretical model, stating, “[that it is] impacting students throughout their [Master’s] thesis research.” To locate the most appropriate research subjects for qualitative inquiry, this study first investigates the content of Master’s theses acknowledgements, following Cronin’s recent bibliometrics on acknowledgements. The frequency with which the acknowledgements of the respective degrees’ theses acknowledge affiliates of their own degree programs informs further data collection. The content analysis of the acknowledgements accompanying Master’s theses focuses strictly with the explicitly manifest content of the acknowledgements.
Data collection techniques(s): To examine the process of Master’s theses research and composition; this study aims to examine the social behavior of graduate students of religion as manifest in the interpersonal information sources they acknowledge in theses submitted for the Master’s degree and whom they characterize in intensive interviews. After having the initial data about information sources, collected and coded according to the information source type, the information sources are juxtaposed to external data about the degree affiliations of the people acknowledged. This analysis of implicit content serves as a lens into the relationships between authors, affiliations and acknowledgements. Having that information facilitates collection of richer data from theses authors through interviewing than otherwise obtainable from the content analysis of the acknowledgements.
Results: The intensive interviewing of Master’s students qualifies the results of the preliminary analysis of degree-relevant information source preferences. If information behavior relates to degree programs defined by students’ faith, the specific evidence should be used to facilitate access to the information sources that will best satisfy the information needs of those patrons with faith while also catering to those without faith.
22. Valerie Nesset
School of Information Studies, McGill University The information behavior of grade-three students in the context of a class project.
Purpose/Objective of study: This research is one of a few studies that have investigated the information behavior of younger elementary school children. It is significant in that recent cognitive research has established that there are considerable and rapid intellectual changes throughout childhood, meaning that studies and/or models outlining the information-seeking experiences of older students and adults might not identify, explain or address the unique information needs of younger elementary school students. Thus, the findings of this study, while providing insight into the barriers faced by children when seeking information, how they use information in an educational context, and how they can be helped to better exploit the information resources available to them, also will inform an information behavioral model specific to grade-three students.
Sample and Setting: This study was conducted over a 3 month period (Winter 2006) in two elementary school classes within an elementary school in a suburb of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Each class met daily with the same teacher for half of the day, rotating between mornings and afternoons. There were 52 students, 12 of whom were studied in greater depth as part of two sample groups, one in each class.
Method: This is a qualitative, phenomenological study.
Data Collection Techniques: Six different types of data collection techniques were employed: participant observation (field notes, audio- and video-tapes, captures of Internet searching sessions), interviews (teacher, 12 volunteer students and some of their parents), questionnaires (pre and post to all attending grade-three students), self-evaluations (all grade-three students), journals (12 volunteers), and final projects (12 volunteers).
- Students have the necessary skills and knowledge to use multiple source formats (e.g. print and electronic) even in the earlier grades of elementary school.
- Books and other printed resources were favored by the teacher but many students preferred to search the Internet for information.
- Information culled from the Internet was rarely read in any depth on-screen. Instead, the students printed out the material in order to peruse it at their leisure at a later time.
- Several barriers prevent the effective seeking of information on the Internet (e.g. search engine design, lack of appropriate sites for young students, inefficient filtering, etc.) and in print (e.g. out-of-date print resources, lack of print reference sources, etc,)
- There are features of several information-seeking models which may be combined to produce a model suitable for grade-three students.
- Basic information literacy skills can be developed and taught from a very young age and expanded upon throughout the elementary and secondary school experience.
23. Daniel R. Roland
Emporia State University, School of Library & Information Management
Relating Faith to the Modern World: A study of a clergy member's sense making behavior in preparing the Sunday sermon
Purpose/Objective of study: To apply the principles of Dervin’s Sense-Making theory to the primary research question: How does a clergy member go about preparing a sermon that relates faith to the modern world by preaching from the Bible in terms understandable to the modern mind and by relating Christian teachings to current issues and human needs? Three particular aspects of the sermon preparation process were explored as expressed in the secondary research questions for the research project:
- How does a clergy member go about choosing a scripture text or topic from which to prepare the Sunday sermon?
- How does the life context situation of a clergy member affect decisions regarding the content and direction of the sermon?
- What goals does a clergy member hope to accomplish with the Sunday sermon?
Sample and Setting: A single-case depth study was conducted with a clergy member of a Protestant denomination in a Midwestern community. The informant has spent his career as a clergy member, is in his mid-fifties, white, and earned a seminary degree.
Method (Qualitative, quantitative, historical, etc): A qualitative single-case depth study.
Data collection technique(s) (Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, etc): Ten personal interview sessions were held over six weeks. Three different interview techniques were employed: unstructured personal reflection by the informant on the sermon preparation process of the previous week (3); semi-structured interviews within the context of reviewing an audio recording of the sermon from the previous week (3); and semi-structured follow up interviews (4). Audio recordings of the interviews were transcribed and analyzed with the use of the NVivo software program.
Results: Extensive and deep data was successfully collected for each of the research questions and numerous themes from Sense-Making theory proved useful in the interpretation of the data. Contributions to the LIS field include confirmation of previous studies on the information-seeking and use behavior of clergy members and also the establishment of a potentially extensive research agenda. The results confirmed previous findings that clergy members tend to prepare sermons on issues with which they are personally struggling and that they tend to work within a closed information system that does not venture beyond the doctrinal boundaries of their denomination. Contributions to LIS education include the finding that clergy members engage in information seeking and use behavior for task completion in ways similar to auditors, architects, and engineers. A preliminary model on the sermon preparation task process was developed. The results also suggest ways in which the library profession might improve services to members of the clergy profession.
Potential future research items emerging from the data that might benefit the fields of LIS, communications, sociology, and religious studies include:
- The process of unmaking the sense of a strongly held religious belief
- Sermon preparation, delivery, and receiving as a means of personal and social knowledge creation
- The dilemma for personal belief systems when closed information systems fail to provide definitive answers to significant questions
- The role of power and the responsibility of trust in the interpretation of Scripture and church doctrine.
24. Tiffany Veinot
The University of Western Ontario
HIV/AIDS Information Exchange in Rural Communities: A Mixed Methods Study of Social Capital in Rural Ontario, British Columbia and Newfoundland
Purpose/Objective of study: Rural people living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) and their caregivers face rural-urban health disparities and service gaps in health care, support and transportation. While HIV/AIDS information is an important resource for PHAs and their caregivers, rural-dwellers face barriers to HIV/AIDS information due to lack of access to local health care providers, reduced rural Internet access and their potential reluctance to use local AIDS service organizations’ (ASO) services. Accordingly, rural residents may have unique needs regarding HIV/AIDS information. This study aims to increase understanding about how HIV/AIDS information is exchanged in, and affects, rural communities by investigating what networks and resources (‘social capital’) exist for rural HIV/AIDS information exchange, how these networks work and how they are produced.
Sample and Setting: This dissertation research is part of a larger community-based research study conducted in three rural regions of Canada. Interviews were conducted with 117 participants, including: PHAs, their friends/family, health care and service providers. The population survey included 1,919 randomly-selected respondents from each rural region and, for comparison, a neighbouring urban area.
Method (Qualitative, quantitative, historical, etc): Mixed methods, including qualitative and quantitative strategies.
Data collection technique(s) (Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, etc): Individual interviews and a telephone survey.
Results: Rural HIV/AIDS information networks largely involve PHAs and formal care providers. These networks contain ‘prominent’ individuals, frequently health professionals or ASO staff and volunteers, who are key information sources for many PHAs and professional colleagues. Often, these prominent individuals have geographically diverse, professional contacts, suggesting that they act as ‘brokers’ in information networks. These individuals are frequently affiliated with urban-based multidisciplinary HIV health clinics or local/regional ASOs, organizations that many participants see as vital sources of help, regardless of whether they know individuals there. These organizations are central to information exchange in study regions and their ties to local PHAs act as ‘linking’ social capital that leverages outside resources for information exchange, often ‘evidence-based’ HIV/AIDS information with formal institutional approval. ‘Bonding’ social capital is prevalent in study regions, and friends/family members rely on their strong ties to PHAs for information regarding HIV transmission and their loved one’s health. In turn, PHAs receive emotional support, but rarely gain helpful HIV/AIDS information, unless these ties include other PHAs or health professionals. Participant concerns about stigma and local social network ‘density’ cause many to disclose their HIV/AIDS experiences selectively, which may contribute to them having small networks and that rarely include ‘bridging’ social capital of acquaintances or colleagues. However, ‘out’ PHAs and friends/family members help create bridging social capital in rural networks, since they often educate community members about HIV/AIDS transmission and treatment, stimulate dialogue and information sharing amongst acquaintances and form connections with others in similar situations. Hence bonding, bridging and linking social capital all facilitate rural HIV/AIDS information exchange and regional differences in information-sharing networks will be discussed in terms of these forms of social capital. Notably, the local availability of linking and bridging social capital for HIV/AIDS information exchange appears to depend upon the involvement of key organizations and activists.