Postgraduate student success rate with free-form information searching.

Uwimana, I.

Published Online

Uwimana, I. 2017. Postgraduate student success rate with free-form information searching. Unpublished Master's Thesis, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town. Graduated 28 March 2017.

The Internet has become a useful instrument in connecting users, regardless of their geographical locations, and has thus has made the world a small village where users can interact and search for information. Another aspect that has made the Internet popular amongst users, is its growing popularity as a global resource connecting millions of users surfing the Web daily, searching for and sharing information. A successful search for information depends on the user's ability to search effectively, and this ability is based on computer competency, knowledge of Information Technology (IT), perceptions of IT usage, and the demographics of the user. These user's characteristics tend to influence the overall user experience. Although the Internet is used by different groups of users to achieve different objectives of information search, not all of them achieve these objectives.

The main aim of this study was to determine the success rate of post-graduate students using free-form information searching to find academic reference materials. Following a pilot study which indicated that the search success rate amongst postgraduate students is low, the survey method was used to collect primary data for the entire research project. The pilot study confirmed the definition of the research problem. Data was collected from Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) postgraduate students. CPUT is the only university of technology in the Western Cape. A quantitative questionnaire, based on SurveyMonkey, was used for data collection and analysis. The findings of this study indicated that the postgraduate student search success rate has a lower than expected value when using free-form searching for academic information. Furthermore, although postgraduate students are moving away from the single-term-searching- syndrome, their success rate is still unacceptably low. However, this outcome is not surprising as the volume of Internet search is changing incrementally and this ever-growing information source has made it difficult to ascertain the quality and authenticity of information that is available to the users. Therefore, postgraduate students were found to be wasting a lot of time on fruitless searching, which affected their progress.
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