Developing an information seeking profile for nursing students
: The role of personality, learning style and self-efficacy

  • Peter John Stokes

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study explored the information seeking behaviour of a group of nursing students at a single university in the United Kingdom to determine whether any of personality, learning style, or self-efficacy with information literacy impacted on this behaviour.
A concurrent embedded quantitative dominant mixed-methods approach was used comprising of a questionnaire and interviews, and took place during the academic year 2008-9. Phase 1 of the research used a questionnaire (sample n=194) consisting of three validated scales (for personality, learning styles, and self-efficacy respectively), plus a section on information seeking preferences based on Foster’s (2004, 2005) non-linear model, and some demographic questions. For Phase 2 a sample (n=11) of students took part in semi-structured interviews using the Critical Incident Technique, the resulting data analysed using a blended method of data collection, analysis and display – Qualitative Interpretative Categorisation (QIC).
Results from the questionnaire data (through Chi-square, Odds ratios, and Binomial regression) showed clear links between differing personality traits, learning style preferences, and levels of self-efficacy with information literacy, and with particular elements of Foster’s model. This enabled seven specific profiles and a ‘level of understanding’ continuum to be formulated. The interview data enabled an information search process model to be produced indicating the ‘route’ students’ use during their information seeking and emphasised the role of situation. Finally incorporating the student’s personal profile into the model allowed a complete information seeking process model to be produced.
Key recommendations from the study are that students should wherever possible have their information seeking profile determined via questionnaire and that a ‘long and thin’ information skills training programme be embedded into the curriculum. This programme should contain a range of types of session and that can be moulded to the situation the students are in
Date of Award29 Apr 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
Sponsors Arts and Humanities Research Council
SupervisorChristine Urquhart (Supervisor) & Allen Foster (Supervisor)


  • nursing students
  • mixed-methods
  • information seeking behaviour

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