THE USE OF ELECTRONIC RESOURCES BY GRADUATE STUDENTS OF UNIVERSITY OF GHANA

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ABSTRACT

The study investigated the use of electronic resources by graduate students of the University of Ghana to find students awareness of electronic resources in the university library, frequency of use of these resources and challenges associated with the use of these resources.

A survey methodology was employed for the study with a population of 302 Regular   MBA students from the University of Ghana Business School. A sample size of 100 was used and the Convenient Sampling Technique was used to generate the sample for the study. A questionnaire was used to solicit data and SPSS software was used to analyze collected data.

The findings indicated that although students are aware of electronic resources, they do not fully utilize them due to challenges such as slow access speed, lack of searching skills, limited subscribed titles and difficulty in finding relevant information. The findings also revealed that students find electronic resources to be very significant in their academics as it helps to expand their knowledge-base and helps them retrieve information with ease for research/project work and for answering assignment questions.

Indeed, electronic resources have boosted teaching, learning and research work and in order to ensure its maximum utilization, more efforts must be put in place by the School authorities to create awareness and to equip students with the needed skills to enhance the effective and efficient                    use       of         these                                         resources.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

     Background to the study

Global trends in Information and Communication technology (ICT) in recent times have brought deep-seated alterations as to how information is gathered, stored, organized, retrieved and used. The introduction and utilization of technology in information processing is persistently shaping the growth of new ways of academic communication.

According to Hawthorne (2008), “electronic resources use in libraries arose with the development of the machine-readable catalogue (MARC) layout in the mid-1960s, 30 years before the debut of the Internet”. This has contributed immensely to electronic resources use in scholarly institutions worldwide. Graduate studies are mostly dependent on the use of this vital resources.

As recorded by AACR2, “electronic resources are materials consisting of data and/or computer program(s) encoded for reading and manipulation by a computer by the use of a peripheral device directly connected to the computer or remotely via a network such as the Internet” ( cited by Reitz, 2005 , p. 244 ). The use of electronic resources for teaching, learning and the dissemination of information and knowledge in the Graduate School of the  University of” Ghana have become very effective. For instance, the University of Ghana institutional repository administered by the Balme Library has digitized Graduate research work for easy retrieval by student and staff to aid research.

Dadzie (2005) reported that, “information in electronic format provides the advantage of being available regardless of location or time and, possibly from the viewpoint of end users, cost,

especially if the resource is open access and the user is proxied into the library‟s site where the users‟ may be provided extensive links to additional resources related to the topic in question”.

Electronic resources are now widely used in academic libraries because they are particularly convenient for acquiring information not readily offered in books, or obtaining timely information on contemporary events or concerns. They also offer reliable, accurate, current and objective reference material not easily accessible over a search engine like Yahoo or Google. For example,  Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) is a capacity development institute based in Africa steered towards strengthening information and communications technology        proficiency for African libraries, information experts, scientists, scholars  in Sub-Saharan  Africa. ITOCA has  trained librarians and graduate students on the   use and assessing academic resources in libraries or a secure environment with good internet connectivity. The organization teaches the students and librarians how to search for journals an eBook through HINARI, AGORA, OARE and ARDI portals. This is done with the objective of equipping the users with the skills needed to become information literates and digitally fluent in research work. The University of Ghana is in partnership with ITOCA to train students and library staff every academic year.

In Ghana, electronic resources use seems to have captured the interest of students and lecturers alike due to the gradual movement from the traditional print media which is said to be labour intensive and time wasting to a more efficient and effective mode of retrieving information for scholarly work. University academics are a unique community and depend on the support of current and up-to-date information which is mostly provided for by electronic resources services in libraries and research centres. The electronic resources can be accessed on various devices  like a tablet, computer, mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistance (PDA‟s). Students now

prefer to use these devices which are handy and can store over two thousands of information

depending on the memory of the device, unlike the print media which is more laborious. “Electronic resources are now used more often than print resources” ( Morse and Clintworth, 2000 ).

Electronic resource for research and academic pursuits has become requisite due to its overwhelming advantages such as content, flexibility, ease of accessibility, interactive, prompt delivery, and largely remote access. Academic work in Ghana is now largely influenced by the use of electronic resources in all the public and private institutions, and due to this, academic libraries in Ghana are updating their system to meet the increasing demand of electronic resources use by students. The “change in traditional document delivery services, from print to electronic, has come about very quickly and libraries and information centres have undergone a significant transformation in order to effectively deliver electronic resources to the academic community” (Appleton, 2006, p. 619)

The Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH ), which was established in 2004, is an umbrella organisation of academic and research libraries whose major role is to meet important needs in libraries from capacity building to provision of online resources and other services that support knowledge exchange and development. Their services have made the exchange of electronic resources among academic libraries easier. It is of this notion Asamoah-Hassan (2008) indicated that “the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH), subscribes to various electronic resources on behalf of member institutions be it public or private”.

There is an increasing demand for electronic resource use in university libraries due to its numerous benefits. This is why Andreaou (2001), opined that “no academic library is considered as modern if it is not automated and if it does not provide some basic electronic information

sources such as the electronic databases, e-journals, OPAC, CD-ROMs and Internet to its students”.

     Statement of the Problem

Electronic resources are increasingly becoming essential in students learning and research activities primarily due to their availability and ease of access over the internet.

The development of the World Wide Web (WWW) by Tim Barnes Lee in 1990 has contributed immensely to the development of Electronic resources (Appleton, 2006). Digital technology has become a major resource used by librarians to enhance effective service delivery.

Globally, the use of electronic resource seems to be the easiest way of enabling graduate students meet their information needs in their academic pursuits. Hitler (2002) stated that, in the Western world, the contribution of e-resources as a primary source of information for research and learning in academia is overwhelming. Electronic resources has a significant number of advantages over the traditional library system which tends to satisfy the information needs of majority of users. It is therefore required by academic institutions to provide electronic resources in order to effectively fulfill their mission of equipping students with relevant and up-to-date knowledge and skills.

However, in most developing countries, students, lecturers and researchers find it difficult to access and use electronic resources even when these e-resources are at their disposal. A study by (Ramayah et al., 2005) indicated that, notwithstanding the enormous feat in e-resources, the level of technology utilisation among students in institutions of higher learning especially in developing countries is still low.

In Africa, Bankole (2012), studied the use of electronic database by scientists at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria. The results showed that, most of the respondents do not use the library‟s free online databases such as AGORA and HINARI due to lack of awareness of these resources.

It is evident that the Balme Library, has put in much effort to install and continuously upgrade e- resource facilities to enhance effective teaching and learning amongst staff and students in all fields, nonetheless, electronic resources are underutilized. According to the librarian, students do not make maximum use of these resources.

From the students‟ perspective, they lack awareness of the various electronic resources and also, they are not given enough practical training on the use of these resources. To them, aside the initial orientation given on how to use electronic resources, there is no continuous training to keep them abreast and to give them the needed skill to manoeuvre their way around the rather complex system. They are also not aware of the enormous benefit of electronic resource in research and academic work.

In addition to the above, electronic resources require continuous evaluation especially when the University continues to admit new students yearly to study its various programmes.

Due to this, the researcher was motivated to investigate the usage of electronic resources amongst graduate students of the University of Ghana, so as to come out with findings that will inform e-resources service providers and the user community, effective ways of providing and use of e- resources .

     The Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study was to examine the use of electronic resources by Regular MBA graduate students of the University of Ghana Business School.

   Specific Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of the study are;

  1. To identify the level of awareness of electronic resources by graduate students.
  • To assess the frequency of use of electronic resources by graduate students.
  • To find out the usefulness and ease of” use of electronic resources to graduate students.
  • To find out the level of satisfaction with the current electronic resources.
  • To identify the challenges associated with the use of electronic resources.
  • To make recommendations for effective use of electronic resources by graduate students of the business school.

     Theoretical Perspective/ Conceptual Framework

“A theory is defined as a set of interrelated constructs (variables), definitions and prepositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables with the purpose of explaining natural phenomena” (Kerlinger 1997). According to McDonald (2014), “right from the beginning of any research activity, every researcher must have relevant theories that will serve as the basis of his research work”. The study adopted the Technology Acceptance Model as a theoretical perspective because as

stated by Dillon and Morris (1996), other theories like the diffusion theory and connectivity theory offer little information on the factors that influence user acceptance.

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is an information systems theory, advanced by  Davis (1989) to analyze computer usage behaviour. Davis‟ TAM seeks to explain how users accept and adopt new technology. The model proposes that when users are offered a new technology, there are some elements that influence their judgment as to how and when to use the technology. Such elements consist of“Perceived Usefulness and Perceived ease-of-use.

Perceived usefulness can be well explained as the potential user‟s personal expectation that the use of a particular system will improve his/her performance. “Perceived usefulness explains the expected overall effect of the use of information and communication technology on job performance or productivity” (Davis, 1993). Therefore, a system (ICT) that has a potential of being usefulness (productive) would be used by the possible user.  This  corroborates  with Saade, Nebebe & Mak (2009), who stated that “perceived usefulness is well-defined as the degree to which a student believes that accessibility and utilisation of electronic information resources will enhance or increase his/her productivity”.

“Perceived Ease of Use refers to the degree to which the potential user anticipates the target system to be effortless” (Davis, 1989). Therefore, Perceived Ease of Use in this study can be defined as the degree to which a student considers that accessibility and application of electronic resources will be uncomplicated.

According to Davis (1989), “the attitude of an individual is not the only factor that determines his use of a system, but is also built on the impact which it may have on his performance”. As a result, the usage of an information system is high if the user believes it will help improve his

performance. The two main elements, thus,   Perceived usefulness and  Perceived ease of use are

motivated by external variables. The external variables that are mainly manifested are cultural factors, social factors, and economic factors. Therefore, the core objective of TAM is to  trace the influence of external variables on internal beliefs, attitudes, and intentions.

Source: Author‟s Conceptualization

TAM has demonstrated to be a useful theoretical model in aiding to comprehend and also to explain user behavior with regards to information system. In a study conducted by (Saade, Nebede & Tan, 2007) “TAM was found to be a concrete theoretical model that provides a better understanding of user behaviour on a system and a multimedia acceptance model”. TAM has been used and tested in many empirical researches and it has yielded reliable results. The TAM theory is therefore appropriate for investigating the use of electronic resources for academic work by Graduate students of the University of Ghana.