START Conference Manager    

ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012

Information Behavior of First-Year Writing Students
M. Whitney Olsen and Anne R. Diekema

Tuesday, 10:30am


First-year writing students are a very large, diverse, and ubiquitous information user group, as writing courses are typically required of all undergraduate students, regardless of major. During their time in their institution's writing program, students frequently must utilize research (information) in their writing assignments. While this formal, task-related information behavior is important for stakeholders in the fields of information science and the humanities to understand, little research has been done on this significant group of students. This study arrived at key exploratory findings by collecting data and context from first-year writing students through semi-structured interviews. The researchers found that students continue to be Google-dependent and fearful of using Wikipedia, though they use it anyway. Students appear to operate in comfort and convenience zones, and distinctly prefer secondary sources which they fail to read completely. People comprise a major part of students' information seeking behavior, but students tend only to consult friends and family members. This study offers practical implications of these behaviors which may be used to help students and inform further research.