Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Seeking Anxiety: Effects of Gender, Level of Study and Age

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Seeking Anxiety: Effects of Gender, Level of Study and Age

Article excerpt


Anxiety, a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear and apprehension, has been defined as an "affective feeling of fear or uneasiness caused by apprehension or anticipation of negative outcomes" (Burdick, 1995, p. 19). This feeling has been identified as one of the most important barriers in academic environments, which has caused different cognitive, affective, and behavioral effects in students, and affected their educational performance (Erfanmanesh, 2011). Scientific and educational environments may give students the experience of frustration and anxiety called "academic-related anxiety" (Onwuegbuzie, Jiao & Bostick, 2004). To date, several forms of academic-related anxiety have been studied. However, frustration associated with the search for information resources in libraries or information systems appear to be among the most prevalent anxieties, because most of students are required to conduct a research as part of completing their academic programme which needs an extensive search and use of information resources (Kuhlthau, 1993; Jiao, Onwuegbuzie, 2002; Onwuegbuzie & Jiao, 2004; Onwuegbuzie, Jiao, & Bostick, 2004). The intricacy of higher education research, especially postgraduate research, requires the identification and retrieval of information resources through different sources. Finding a topic for research, writing a research proposal, conducting a review of the related literature, and settling on the research topic may cause or increase feelings of anxiety and frustration in the vast majority of postgraduate students (Van Kampen, 2003; Kohrman, 2003).

Fear and apprehension during the information search process (which has been labeled information seeking anxiety in the current study) is typically experienced when an individual is searching for information in libraries or information systems or even when he is preparing or just thinking to conduct search process. Anxiety experienced during the information seeking process in libraries and information systems has been documented by previous research (Mellon, 1986; Kuhlthau, 1988, 1993; Van Kampen, 2003; Onwuegbuzie, Jiao & Bostick, 2004; Erfanmanesh, Abrizah & Noor, 2012). Dalrymple and Zweizig (1992) found that some of the negative feelings like frustration, anxiety, tension, and confusion were reported by participants during the information seeking process using card and Online Public Access Catalogue catalogs. Branch (2001) found that uncertainty, frustration, doubt, and anxiety to be the common emotions while searching for information resources using the CD-ROM encyclopedias among junior high school students. In another research conducted among undergraduate students by Young and Von Seggern (2001), anxiety has been reported as the most prevalent negative feelings during the information seeking process. Cheng (2004) indicated that negative feelings like anxiety were indeed important factors involved in students' information seeking process.

Consistent across aforementioned studies and other existing literature is the finding that, the anxiety experienced during the information seeking process is a real phenomenon which is prevalent among students and may has "debilitating effects on students' academic achievement" (Jiao, Onwuegbuzie & Waytowich, 2008, p. 949) and their research performance (Onwuegbuzie & Jiao, 2004). As such, the aim of the current study is to deepen further our understanding of this phenomenon by investigating effects of postgraduate student's gender, level of study and age on various dimensions of the information seeking anxiety construct.

Review of the Literature:

An extensive review of the literature addresses gender, level of study and age effects on academic-related anxiety was conducted. Previous studies have had mixed results as to whether or not anxiety experienced by students during information seeking process in libraries or information systems differed between males and females. …

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