Exploring the effects of learning style on the use of an Electronic Library System

Joanna Worth, Christine Fidler

Abstract


Electronic information retrieval is becoming an increasing trend (most notably in higher education) due to its cost effectiveness and ability to manage large quantities of information. As large differences in the user population often give rise to differing requirements between users of
information retrieval systems, an insight into individual searching behaviour is important. This has been widely recognised by writers such as Shniederman (1986) and Thimbleby (1990). The electronic library will be significant in changing the role of educational libraries. Research into
individual differences and search behaviour within the electronic library environment is essential if
Electronic Library Systems (ELS) are to work effectively. Sources of individual difference include age, gender, subject knowledge, personality and learning style.
An ELS can be defined as :
"A system designed for the provision and management of information for the purposes of teaching, learning and research in which the full-text of materials is held in electronic form. Its adaptability and cost-effectiveness allows the needs of individual institutions to be to met effectively."
The primary aim of the research reported here is to assess the ability of ELINOR, an example ELS, to facilitate the information retrieval activities of different user groups when classified by learning style. ELINOR is an acronym for Electronic Library Information Online Retrieval. The ELINOR
system comprises an image and text database of books, journals and course materials which can be directly accessed by students and staff via desktop workstations distributed across the various campuses of De Montfort University.

Keywords


Electronic information retrieval; users; individual searching; electronic library; educational libraries; search behaviour; Electronic Library Systems; age; gender; subject knowledge; personality; learning style

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ISSN 1756-1086 (Online)