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Factors that Influence Users to Leave, Acquire, and Retain Information Items: A Case Study of College Students' Personal Information Management

Christina M. Finneran

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


Personal Information Management (PIM) research has primarily focused on how users manage information items that are in their local collection, under their control. This investigation broadens the study of personal collections, additionally looking at items that users decide not to acquire because they can re-find them easily ("leaving"). Specifically, the study identifies factors that influence the leaving, acquiring, and retaining of information for a personal information collection.

The theoretical framework developed for this dissertation research introduces the hoarding literature into the PIM domain. The hoarding literature contributes constructs that may influence leaving or keeping behavior, such as beliefs about possessions, information processing abilities, avoidance, and indecision. Further, the "keeping" concept in the PIM literature is refined to consist of the acquisition, discarding, and retention of information items.

To improve the external validity of the study, PIM will not be studied within a particular software application or tool, but within a finite project -- a college course. The research questions are:

RQ1. What factors influence college students' personal acquisition of course materials?

1.A. What factors influence students to acquire course materials?

1.B. What factors influence students to not acquire course materials?

RQ2. What factors influence the retention of course materials after the course is over?

2.A. What factors influence students to save course materials?

2.B. What factors influence students to discard course materials?

This study uses a multiple-embedded case study design: three undergraduate courses serve as distinct cases and students as embedded units within each course. The data collection includes interviews with instructors and students, artifact analysis of student course materials, observations in class and through the email class list, as well as log files of student usage of the learning management system. The findings will be shared in the poster.

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