An Investigation of the Information-Seeking Preferences of Secondary School Teachers

Julia Bale

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    In secondary schools, one of the standard methods of assessment is the student research task. Despite the wealth of information detailing the information-seeking preferences of high school students, there is little published to shed light on the preferences of the very people who set these tasks '' the classroom teachers themselves. There is even less detail regarding which factors motivate or deter these teachers from choosing or rejecting specific information resources or favouring particular locations from which to obtain resources for their own research needs. This study of the information-seeking preferences of secondary school teachers, carried out within three Sydney (New South Wales, Australia) schools during the years 2001''2005, provides a set of ''snapshots in time''. Another possible description could be that it is a ''point-in-time'', cross-sectional study of three schools that fills many of the gaps in our knowledge. Â The study employed mixed paradigms and methods, with an initial survey followed by in-depth interviews with 27 teachers from the three schools. An understanding of the findings was enhanced by insight from the major theoretical strands that underpinned the study: constructivism, which emphasised the multiple perspectives of the teachers themselves, the role of power and control in the exercise of information preferences, the nature of collaboration between teachers and librarians, and, overarching all, the impact of continuity and change on teachers'' information-seeking preferences in the school workplace of the 21st century.The study revealed that teachers were, on the whole, open to using a range of information resources from a variety of locations, with preferences accommodating traditional print and digital resources, the latter increasingly obtained via the Internet. Preferences and priorities were motivated by factors including teachers'' perceptions of time saved when certain resources were located and used, the accessibility of some resources over others and, in some instances, the aesthetic qualities of preferred resources. The role played by the personality traits of teachers, and their perceptions of power and control over the information-seeking process, emerged from the findings asexerting a strong influence not only on the choice of information resources and locations, but also on the likelihood of engagement with the school library and its staff. Collaboration between teachers and teacher-librarians emerged as a complex issue, with suggestions that higher levels of collaboration could develop over time, if based on mutual interest, trust and common goals for student learning.This study contributes insight into ways in which teacher-librarians can respond to the challenges of maintaining a strong ''library brand'' and a viable school library service, in the face of the technological challenges and economic constraints of the 21st century. These include a focus on developing the role of the teacher-librarian as ''research mentor'' to younger teachers, and as ''heritage collection development mentors'' to support teachers within their respective departments. One key recommendation is for pre-service teachers and teacher-librarians to commence collaboration on student research tasks, by sharing a school-based practicum experience that would inculcate the benefits of collegiate partnerships based on mutual trust and professional respect.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Williamson, Kirsty, Co-Supervisor
    • McGregor, Joy, Co-Supervisor
    Award date01 May 2014
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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