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'I’m just not sure.' The persistence of uncertainty in the information seeking of undergraduate students with dyslexia

Beveridge, L., Makri, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-5817-4893 & Macfarlane, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-8057-0737 (2022). 'I’m just not sure.' The persistence of uncertainty in the information seeking of undergraduate students with dyslexia. In: Information Research: an international electronic journal. Information Seeking in Context (ISIC), 26-29 Sep 2022, Berlin, Germany. doi: 10.47989/irisic2207


Introduction. As information seeking progresses, it is expected feelings of uncertainty surrounding, for example, the information need, what information will be useful to satisfy the need and how well the need has been satisfied will shift towards confidence and clarity. The six corollaries offered by Kuhlthau outline and explain areas where this shift can happen. However, does it happen for all groups of information-seekers? Undergraduate students with dyslexia often have lower information seeking-related self-efficacy than their peers and this can result in uncertainty persisting throughout information seeking.

Method. Retrospective naturalistic think aloud observations were held with 20 undergraduate students with dyslexia. After looking for information for one of their (self-chosen) assignments, participants were invited to explore their thoughts, feelings and actions with the researcher while watching a screen recording of their information seeking session.

Analysis. First, an inductive reflexive Thematic Analysis was conducted which revealed self-efficacy to be a key influence in the information seeking behaviour of undergraduate students with dyslexia. To investigate this further, a dedicated deductive analysis was conducted leveraging Kuhlthau’s six corollaries.

Results. The expected shift away from uncertainty towards clarity and confidence was found to be either delayed, disrupted or prevented by participants’ low self-efficacy surrounding selecting and spelling keywords and reading, interpreting and evaluating information online. Uncertainty persisted throughout information seeking and was rarely reduced or resolved.

Conclusions. Key areas for additional support during information seeking for this user group are identified, including keyword selection and spelling, accurate reading and interpretation and confident evaluation of online information.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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