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The Impact of Dyslexia on the Online Information-Seeking Behaviour of Undergraduate Students

Beveridge, L. (2023). The Impact of Dyslexia on the Online Information-Seeking Behaviour of Undergraduate Students. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

Dyslexia is a neuro-difference that up to 10% of undergraduate students can have. Dyslexia most commonly manifests itself in weaknesses in reading, spelling, memory and the way information is processed. Seeking information in the context of assignment preparation is a key skill for success in Higher Education and beyond, and this research sought to investigate the impact that dyslexia has on the information-seeking process for this demographic of undergraduate. A limited number of previous studies had shown there were differences in information retrieval and search behaviour between those with dyslexia and their peers but there had not been an in-depth study conducted in this context before. To address this gap in knowledge, two research aims were identified: 1) Understand the information-seeking behaviour of undergraduate students with dyslexia in the context of assignment preparation, 2a) Make recommendations for information literacy instruction design for those involved in the information-seeking instruction of undergraduate students with dyslexia and 2b) Make recommendations for online information system design to support information-seekers with dyslexia.

To address the research aims, three studies were conducted and the research findings presented make three contributions 1) A practical understanding of the information-seeking of those with dyslexia, 2) A conceptual framework and 3) Practical recommendations made leveraging the conceptual framework.

Firstly, a study to explore the information-seeking behaviour of undergraduate students with dyslexia in the context of assignment preparation was conducted using mixed methods. Cognitive screening exercises, questionnaires, interviews and screen recordings from seven undergraduates with and seven without dyslexia highlighted areas for further investigation, such as the selection of keywords, evaluating online information for relevance and the role of self-efficacy during information-seeking.

A second, detailed qualitative study utilising a retrospective think aloud protocol with 20 undergraduate students with dyslexia provided in-depth understanding of the information-seeking behaviour of this group. From the findings of study two, a Framework of Barriers and Compensatory Strategies was developed. The framework identifies communicating information need and evaluating online information for reliability and relevance as conceptual overarching areas where dyslexia can present barriers to information-seeking. The role of memory and self-efficacy in the information-seeking of undergraduates with dyslexia are also detailed.

A final study utilised an online survey to question undergraduate students with and without dyslexia (n=20 with dyslexia and n=42 without dyslexia) as to the extent the findings presented in the Framework of Barriers and Compensatory Strategies generalised to their information-seeking behaviour in the context of assignment preparation. Two respondents with and two respondents without dyslexia attended online interviews to explore their survey answers in more detail. The third study’s findings validated the findings of study one and two, and those with dyslexia were found to be experiencing barriers to their information-seeking in unique ways and more frequently than their peers.

Recommendations made from findings are two-fold: that information literacy instruction and the design of online information systems can be adapted in light of new understanding presented in the Framework of Barriers and Compensatory Strategies that has been developed. Recommendations made for information literacy instruction design can be used by information professionals to adapt their teaching content and practices and assistive design interventions for online information systems are suggested.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Library & Information Science
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Beveridge thesis 2023 PDF-A.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 31 January 2027 due to copyright restrictions.

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