Information Needs And Seeking Behavior Of Adult Learners In Port Harcourt Local Government Area

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Information Needs And Seeking Behavior Of Adult Learners In Port Harcourt Local Government Area


This study examined information needs and seeking behavior of adult learners in Port Harcourt Local Government Area. Descriptive research design of the survey type was adopted for the study and 200 learners were randomly selected from literacy centres across the state. A self-structured questionnaire was designed and appropriately reviewed and validated by experts in the field of information studies and adult education. Descriptive statistics of frequency counts, simple percentages and mean score was used to analyse the data collected from the learners. Results of the analysis revealed a ranking of need for information on health and general wellbeing coming first, followed by information on how to acquire basic literacy skills of reading, writing & arithmetic which was ranked second among others. The findings also showed that adult learners seek information mostly through radio and television (mean = 3.0450), followed by textbooks (mean = 2.8550) and through their facilitators (mean = 2.7400). Adult learners also seek information through their various religious books (mean = 2.7350), literacy primers (mean = 2.6300) and social media (mean = 2.5050). Language barrier and unavailability of required materials ranked first and second respectively among others as the challenges they face in seeking information.

Table of Content

  • Title Page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Content
  • List of Tables
  • Abstract

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Scope of the Study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.9 Definition of Terms
  • 1.10 Organisations of the Study

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the Study
  • 3.3 Sample Size Determination
  • 3.4 Sample Size Selection Technique and Procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.8 Validity of the Study
  • 3.9 Reliability of the Study
  • 3.10 Ethical Consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Analysis of Data
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions
  • 4.5 Discussion of Findings

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • References

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

In the contemporary world, people are classified as either rich or poor not because of their wealthy possession but by the amount of information they have at their disposal. The information-rich people have wealth of knowledge in identifying their information needs and using seeking behaviours to access and acquire the information through traditional and digital means and this enable them to properly plan for their lives and react to developmental challenges on the basis of what they know or can find out. On the other hand, information-poor people lack the required skills to satisfy their information needs and this makes them vulnerable to all kinds of pressure that often stall their personal development and limit their capacity to contribute meaningfully to national development (Yadav, 2017).

The term information need is associated with a person or group of persons’ desire to locate and obtain information to satisfy a sentient or in sentient need. Information needs is defined as evolving from an unclear consciousness of missing information and as ending in locating information that contributes to understanding and meaning (Kuthlthau,1993, as cited in Chinnasamy, 2016). It is further seen “as a gap in a person‟s knowledge that, when experienced at the conscious level as a question, give rise to a search for an answer and if the need is urgent, the search may be pursued with diligence until the desire is fulfilled” (Reitz, 2004, as quoted in Jonathan and Nwokocha, 2015). According to Dervin (1983), information need refers to a “state that arises within a person, suggesting some kind of a gap that requires filling. When applied to the word information, as in information need, what is suggested is a gap that can be filled by something that the needing person calls „information”.

UNESCO (2007), observed that in the course of a person‟s lifetime, the more the person learn and thereby come to know, but especially the sooner the person master and adopt proficient learning skills, habits and attitudes, yet, the person struggle to know how, where, whom, and when to search for and retrieve information that the person needs to know, it thus means that the person has not learned anything. It was further stated that the more information literate an individual is, the more the chances of applying and utilizing the embedded skills, habits and attitudes to make sounder and timelier decisions to cope with personal and family health and welfare, educational, job-related, citizenship and other challenges.

With the advent and improvement in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs), the information environment is highly rich and often characterized by an outburst of information sources and providers, a variety of methods for accessing information, and a redundancy of content from multiple sources. However, in spite of the „overloaded‟ information environment, many users‟ still experience information inadequacy and anxiety, some lack the skills to navigate this complex information landscape and some find it difficult to assess the information they find as being enough to satisfy their information needs. So, understanding how information users seek information sources and how they choose content to meet their information needs becomes imperative most especially adult learners who have little or no basic literacy skills to explore various information sources (Prabha, Connaway, Olszewski and Jenkins, 2007).

1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

World over, the primary function of librarians and information scientists alike is to provide opportunity for free and equitable access to information to all in order to createliterate environments and promoting literacy by offering relevant and attractive reading materials for all ages and all literacy levels but unfortunately adult learners in literacy programmes are „neglected species‟ in this regard as there is little or no interest as to understand the dynamics involved in the information needs and information seeking pattern of this level of learners. While literature abound on information needs and information seeking behaviour of different set of learners at different levels, none exist on the information needs and information seeking behaviour of learners in adult literacy programme most especially in Nigeria where adult illiteracy rate is believed to be high and this thus creates a vacuum that this study sought to fill by exploring the information needs and seeking behavior of adult learners in Port Harcourt Local Government Area.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate the information needs and seeking behavior of adult learners in Port Harcourt Local Government Area.

Specific objectives include to:

  1. Examine the information needs of learners in an adult literacy programme.
  2. Evaluate the information-seeking pattern of learners in an adult literacy programme.
  3. Investigate the challenges do adult learners face in seeking information.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the information needs of learners in an adult literacy programme?
  2. What is the information-seeking pattern of learners in an adult literacy programme?
  3. What challenges do adult learners face in seeking information?

1.5 Significance of the Study

According to Paler-Calmorin and Calmorin (2007:36) states that the significance of the study should show the importance of the study in (a) solving the problem and need, (b) bridging a knowledge gap, (c) improving social, economic and health conditions, (d) enriching research instruments, methods and strategies, and (e) supporting government thrusts.” From this study, learners will be able to see what kind of information are they lacking or needing in order to help their school performance, and also how to access thatinformation and use it. The learners will also be exposed to relevant information resources that may meet their needs.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study focused on information needs and seeking behavior of adult learners in Port Harcourt Local Government Area. Other aspects covered in this study include:the information needs of learners in an adult literacy programme, the information-seeking pattern of learners in an adult literacy programme and the challenges do adult learners face in seeking information

1.7 Limitation of the Study

Simon (2011) defines limitations as the weaknesses in the study that are beyond the control of the researcher and delimitations “are those characteristics that limit the scope and define the boundaries of your study” but can be controlled by the researcher. The study also focused only on grade 10 and 11 learners because in these grades the learners should be preparing themselves for the matriculation exit qualification. This study was constrained by some factors. Firstly, the time frame allocated for the completion of this study was not enough for the researcher to extensively carry out research based on the theme of this research work. On the other hand, the research participants were not willing to participate in responding to the administered questionnaire of this study. Also, the required materials like journals and articles needed for the proper completion of this study were not readily available online and offline. All these constraint put together, ultimately determined the extent to which the researcher was able to go in this study.

1.8 Definition of Terms


Abstract concept that refers to that which has the power to inform. At the most fundamental level information pertains to the interpretation of that which may be sensed. Any natural process that is not completely random, and any observable pattern in any medium can be said to convey some amount of information. Whereas digital signals and other data use discrete signs to convey information, other phenomena and artifacts such as analog signals, poems, pictures, music or other sounds, and currents convey information in a more continuous form.[1] Information is not knowledge itself, but the meaning that may be derived from a representation through interpretation.
Information is often processed iteratively: Data available at one step are processed into information to be interpreted and processed at the next step. For example, in written text each symbol or letter conveys information relevant to the word it is part of, each word conveys information relevant to the phrase it is part of, each phrase conveys information relevant to the sentence it is part of, and so on until at the final step information is interpreted and becomes knowledge in a given domain. In a digital signal, bits may be interpreted into the symbols, letters, numbers, or structures that convey the information available at the next level up. The key characteristic of information is that it is subject to interpretation and processing.

The concept of information is relevant in various contexts,[3] including those of constraint, communication, control, data, form, education, knowledge, meaning, understanding, mental stimuli, pattern, perception, proposition, representation, and entropy.

The derivation of information from a signal or message may be thought of as the resolution of ambiguity or uncertainty that arises during the interpretation of patterns within the signal or message.

Information seeking : the process or activity of attempting to obtain information in both human and technological contexts. Information seeking is related to, but different from, information retrieval (IR).

Information behaviour : a field of information science research that seeks to understand the way people search for and use information in various contexts. It can include information seeking and information retrieval, but it also aims to understand why people seek information and how they use it. The term ‘information behaviour’ was coined by Thomas D. Wilson in 1981and sparked controversy upon its introduction. The term has now been adopted and Wilson’s model of information behaviour is widely cited in information behaviour literature. In 2000, Wilson defined information behaviour as “the totality of human behaviour in relation to sources and channels of information”.

A variety of theories of information behavior seek to understand the processes that surround information seeking. An analysis of the most cited publications on information behavior during the early 21st century shows its theoretical nature.[7] Information behavior research can employ various research methodologies grounded in broader research paradigms from psychology, sociology and education.


Particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writingwith the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in written form in some specific context of use.[2] In other words, humans in literate societies have sets of practices for producing and consuming writing, and they also have beliefs about these practices. Reading, in this view, is always reading something for some purpose; writing is always writing something for someone for some particular ends.[4] Beliefs about reading and writing and its value for society and for the individual always influence the ways literacy is taught, learned, and practiced over the lifespan.

Some researchers suggest that the history of interest in the concept of “literacy” can be divided into two periods. Firstly is the period before 1950, when literacy was understood solely as alphabetical literacy (word and letter recognition). Secondly is the period after 1950, when literacy slowly began to be considered as a wider concept and process, including the social and cultural aspects of reading and writing, and functional literacy.


The process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes, and preferences.[1] The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals, and some machines; there is also evidence for some kind of learning in certain plants.[2] Some learning is immediate, induced by a single event (e.g. being burned by a hot stove), but much skill and knowledge accumulate from repeated experiences. The changes induced by learning often last a lifetime, and it is hard to distinguish learned material that seems to be “lost” from that which cannot be retrieved.

1.9 Organizations of the Study

This research work is categorized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), background to the study, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms.
  2. Chapter two encompasses the conceptual review theoretical review and empirical reviews on which the study is based.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary of Findings

Additionally, the information they request is not provided to them. For example, some students have stated that they would like to read comic novels, local publications like “Alaroye,” or obtain information about their health, but these things are not easily accessible to them. Another issue is the unstable power supply because many of the devices used for information sourcing need electricity to operate, and this resource is frequently scarce in the nation.

While it is well recognised that literacy abilities significantly influence a person’s ability to generate revenue, adult learners with little income will undoubtedly face difficulties obtaining the necessary technology through which they can access knowledge that may advance their careers. Al-Suqri and Lillard (2011), who claimed that language issues are a very substantial obstacle to information seeking among social science researchers, confirm this conclusion. Additionally, Chawinga and Zozie (2016) discovered that 65.8% of their respondents said they lacked access to pertinent information sources in their study.In particular, 25% of the respondents said that there are no information centres near where they reside since the ones that do exist are far away and don’t have the necessary information resources. The cost of internet access is also a significant obstacle to finding information in this study.

The study also discovered that adult learners generally agreed that offering reading materials in native languages, making information sources accessible, placing a deliberate emphasis on the need to develop ICT skills, providing proper instruction on how to use libraries, and other measures could lessen, if not entirely eliminate, some of the difficulties they encounter when looking for information. Information in their native language will help them better absorb the information and use it to improve their quality of life because adult learners prefer information in their local languages.Additionally, making information sources accessible helps broaden learners’ knowledge bases and hasten the acquisition of reading skills, while adult learners who are ICT-skills proficient will be better equipped to traverse the new, complicated information environment. Adult learners must be properly instructed on how to use libraries and the many services from which they may benefit if they are to survive in the knowledge economy. This is because libraries play a major role in advancing knowledge.

For instance, Trombetta (2017) identified seven reasons library is essential for all and this include: it serves as a free educational resources to everyone; it’s a safe refuge for the homeless and underserved people; it helps boost local economies; it plays a significant role in second language learning, it makes communities healthier; preservation of history and more importantly, truth; lastly, libraries help connect communities. So, giving them the right orientation on library use will increase their thirst for knowledge and substantial acquisition of knowledge will increase their capacity to contribute to the sustainable development of the country.

5.2 Conclusion

This study has assessed the information needs and information seeking pattern of adult learners in literacy programmes in Oyo State and the findings of the study revealed that adult learners ranked information on health and general wellbeing and information on how to acquire basic literacy skills of reading, writing and arithmetic as their most preferred information needs. Findings also showed that adult learners seek information mostly through radio and television and Language barrier and unavailability of required materials ranked first and second respectively among others as the challenges they face in seeking information. Lastly, possible ways of meeting the information needs of adult learners were highlighted.

5.3 Recommendation

Arising from the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. Health education should be included in the curriculum of adult literacy programmes as adult learners are more interested in information related to their health and general wellbeing
  2. There should be a conscious effort at packing and dishing out information to adult learners through radio and television as these means as proven to be the best medium through which adult learners seek information.
  3. There should be sensitization on library use for adult learners and the inherent benefits in terms of the potential in library materials to support their literacy skills acquisition.
  4. Library or information centres should be located close to their literacy centres,
  5. In packaging information for adult learners, there must be a consideration for appropriate language that elicits the interest of the learners to the information most especially the use of indigenous languages.
  6. Further study on information needs and information seeking pattern of learners in adult literacy programmes in Nigeria should involve a larger number of participants across the six geopolitical zones of the country for better generalization for the whole country.

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