OK, I am off to China tomorrow to conduct an information literacy related study in Beijing. I am excited but also nervous. Here is a preliminary write up of what I will be doing for those interested. I am hopeful for a 2008 publication data of my findings. I should be back in the USA the week of July 9th.
My internet access will be spotty the next few weeks. I will not be posting to this blog and comments will not be moderated until I return.
I will be conducting a study this summer in Beijing, China of Chinese college students. The study will consist of interviewing students about how they use the World Wide Web to find information for school assignments. In particular, the students will be asked how they go about finding information and how they know if the information they find on the Web is scholarly or factual. It is hoped that the results of this study will help educators outside of China understand the likely Web use habits of these students when the Chinese students are studying at institutions of higher education outside of China.
The research for this study will be conducted at the North China University of Technology in Beijing, China. The research will be solely conducted by me. I am the Head of Reference Services at the Park Library of Central Michigan University. I have taken several graduate level courses in qualitative research methods at Kent State University, Michigan State University, and Central Michigan University. I have also conducted research using this methodology in the past and have published a paper based upon it.
The data will be collected in interviews with Chinese college students in Beijing, China. I will take notes as I listen to their responses. I will also be tape recording each interview. After returning to Michigan, I will review the notes and then transcribe the data from the tapes. I will import the transcribed data into the NVIVO7 software program. I will then use the software to identify and highlight themes.
The timeframe of the study will be over the course of one year. I will collect the data in China in late June and early July 2007. After returning to Michigan, I will review my field notes and transcribe the data collected on the tapes in late summer and fall of 2007. In the spring of 2008, I plan on writing up the research and preparing a manuscript for publication. I intend to submit a paper for consideration to a peer-reviewed journal by the end of May 2008.
I have attached a copy of the questions I will b e asking the students.
Characteristics of Subjects
The subject population will consist of college students who tend to be in the 18-22 years age range. These students will be attending the North China University of Technology in Beijing. There will be both male and female subjects present in the population. Most of these students are ethnically Chinese.
Subjects for the study will be identified in two ways. First, students assigned to help the group I am traveling with as translators will be asked to participate. Second, I will ask these translators to serve as gatekeepers for a snowball effect of finding other students who would wish to participate. As many students will be eager to practice their English language skills with an American, this should prove effective. I plan on talking to about twenty subjects.
Participation in this study by the subjects is voluntary. The study will be explained to the subjects and they will have the ability to refuse to participate without any penalty. There will be no rewards or penalties for participating or not participating. There will be no attempt to secure any private or confidential information in the to find and identify subjects.
This study would be a follow up and continuation of my prior research which has been published as “The Land of Confusion? High School Students and Their Use of the Web for Research” [Research Strategies 18, no. 2 (2001): 151-163] and “International Bibliographic Activities in the 20th Century: A Literature Review” [MLA Forum 2, no. 1 (2003), online at http://www.mlaforum.org/volumeII/issue1/InternationalBib.html.] The study will consist of interviewing students about how they use the World Wide Web to find information for school assignments. In particular, the students will be asked how they go about finding information and how they know if the information they find on the Web is scholarly or factual. It is hoped that the results of this study will help educators outside of China understand the likely Web use habits of these students when the Chinese students are studying at institutions of higher education outside of China.
Risk and Protection of Subjects
There is little likelihood that the subjects will suffer any possibility of risk or discomfort physically, psychologically, or socially. The nature of the questions is not controversial and is simply attempting to determine how the subjects are using the Web to conduct research. In addition, I will be interviewing each subject privately so that in the highly unlikely event an answer to a question could pose them harm it will be heard by no one but me. I also will not be recording the names of any participants on the tapes or on my field notes.
Participants in the study will be given an informed consent form to read and sign. The form will be available in both English and Mandarin Chinese. Participants will be allowed to keep a copy of the form.
All materials used in this study (tapes and field notes) will be kept in my possession while in China. These materials will leave with me when I return to Michigan. I will keep these materials in my locked office in a locked cabinet. Upon the successful publication of the article based on this study, I will destroy all materials. I am the only person who will have access to the data.
The interview tapes and field notes will not have names attached. As such, none will be used when coding the data. Instead, I will use numbers to distinguish between subjects. These number swill be randomly assigned and have no bearing to any of the subjects. I will be the only person who will be transcribing the data from the tapes.
Questions for Use in the Study
1. When you are given an assignment at school that requires you to look up information, how do you start your search for information?
2. What types of assignments are you likely to use the Web for?
3. How do you gain access to the Web?
4. What types of web sites would you use to find facts?
5. What types of web sites would you not use?
6. How do you know if the information on a web site is good?
7. How do you get help in finding information?