The impact of personality and approaches to learning on information behaviour. This essay is by Jannica Heinström. It was published in Information Research, Vol. 5 No. 3, April 2000.
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The tradition of research in information studies has become more user centered since the beginning of the 1980’s (Kuhlthau, 1991). It has been acknowledged that the user studies have important implications on the availability of information and the development of libraries. Psychology gives us essential understanding of search behaviour (Awaritefe, 1984). This creates a base through which we can develop the search systems and make the information more available for the customer. Instead of, as before, studying the safe and stable information systems the focus is now on the users who often are uncertain and confused (Kuhlthau, 1991).
Today it is increasingly important to be information literate. An information literate person realizes the need for information, finds, evaluates and effectively uses the information he needs (American Library Association, 1989). The aim of the library and information skills curriculum is not only to teach how to locate and access information sources but to develop logical and critical thinking in the students. (Eisenberg & Berkowitz, 1988). Talents like cognitive competence, systematical thinking, energetic information-seeking and an optimistic attitude towards problem solving are important in the information society (Savolainen, 1995)
Understanding of the connection between personality and information seeking can ease the understanding of the different seeking behaviour of the students and help teachers, tutors and librarians support the students in their searches. You must meet each student in the framework of his personal search style, some for instance finds it easier than others to search databases (Hawk, 1993). No single search strategy is the right one, the crucial criteria is how well it suits the individual in question.