The Effect of Early Adolescents' Psychological Needs Satisfaction upon Their Perceived Competence in Information Skills and Intrinsic Motivation for Research

Article excerpt

The American Association of School Librarians' Standards for the 21st Century Learner make clear that information skills alone are not sufficient for student success; students must also value those skills, use them in a productive and responsible manner, and have the motivational "dispositions in action" to support successful research and independent lifelong learning. Self-determination theory highlights perceived competence and autonomy as two basic psychological needs that support intrinsically-motivated behavior. This study investigates the extent to which context factors inherent to the school library influence students' perceived competence in the domain of information skills (PCIS), and their intrinsic motivation for research (IMR). The study explores this relationship among 1272 eighth grade 13-year old students in 20 states. Findings indicate that student perceptions of their school librarian's autonomy supportiveness and their perceptions of the librarian's technology competence contribute significantly to PCIS and IMR. These findings are important in that they highlight the important role that the school librarian may play in influencing student affect towards the activity of information uses and research, and likely their consequent learning outcomes.

Introduction

Information literacy (IL) has been defined by the National Forum on Information Literacy as "the ability to know when there is a need for information, and to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the problem or issue at hand" (National Forum on Information Literacy, 2008, main page). That information literacy is the "ability to find and use information" was also the basic definition put forth by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) for many years in what had become a bible of sorts for school library media specialists in the United States, Information Power: Building Partnership for Learning (American Library Association, 1998, p. 1). New updated standards were announced in 2007 and further refined in 2008. AASL's new Standards for the 21st Century Learner (2008) encompass not only skills that contribute to multiple literacies but also their affective and motivational counterparts. A number of researchers have been arguing the critical importance of such issues in information seeking behaviors for years (see, for example, Bilal, 2002; Bilal & Kirby, 2002; Bilal, 2005; Ke & Zhang, 2008; Kuhlthau, 1993; Nahl, 1993; Nahl, 2007; Small & Arnone, 2000; Wang, Hawk & Tenopir, 2000).

The new standards make clear that information skills alone are not sufficient for student success; students must also value those skills, use them in a productive and responsible manner, and have the motivational "dispositions in action" to support successful research and independent lifelong learning. AASL defines dispositions as "the learning behaviors, attitudes, and habits of mind, that transform a learner from one who is able to learn to one who actually does learn" (AASL, 2008, p. 2). Katz defines a disposition as "a tendency to exhibit frequently, consciously, and voluntarily a pattern of behavior that is directed to a broad goal" (1994, What are Dispositions, para. 2). Dispositions include students' perceived competence in their information skills (PCIS)-their confidence in information-seeking abilities; they also include students' intrinsic motivation to use these skills to engage in research (IMR) for either school or personal interests.

Recent research provides support for the finding that students' disposition of perceived competence in their information skills (PCIS) contributes positively towards their actual information knowledge, as measured by a validated information skills knowledge test (Arnone, Reynolds & Marshall, 2008). Further, Farmer (2004) found significant correlations between students' self-perceptions of their research ability and students' social and emotional student attributes including emotional resilience, getting along, and persistence. …