Factors affecting Utilisation of Electronic Information Resources and Services by Medical Students at the University of Zambia

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Miyanda, Munzya, Eness
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Despite the fact that research hsa proved that electronic information resources(EIRs)have proved a wider access to information in most higher learning institutions for teaching,learning,and research as compared to printed materials,it is puzzling that these resources have not yet been appreciated in some higher learning institutions.For example,studies done at the University of Zambia,including this study,have all shown low usage levels of EIRs.These resources have remained underutilised.With this background,this survey therefore was conducted to investigate factors that affect the usage of EIRs and to indentify measures that would improve thier usage.The study population comprised Medical students of the University.The study combined qualitative and quantitative methods of research,while questionnaires and focus group discussions(FGDs)were used to collect data from the respondents in the field.Asample size of 127 students was randomly selected to answer questionnaires while another sample of 22 students was selected to take part in FGDs.The research findings revealed that the usage levels of the available electronic information resources were low with 40% indicating that they used them while 60% revealed that they did not use them.Among the factors believed to be cotributing towards the low usage levels of electronic information resources were lack of encouragement and proper guidance from lecturersand librarians to students to effectively use electronic information resources;lack of effective internet searching skills by students to effectively exploit EIRs;fewer computers made available for the st6udents to use ;poor internet connnectivity such as internet corruption,power failure and insufficient bandwidth;and lack of awereness of the available EIRs.Other factors include less value placed on the importance of using EIRs by students;limited time for students to access EIRs due to too much academic pressure;and long distance from students hostels to the library.Folllowing the above finding,the research made the following recommendations to the library as well as the university:To impinternet infrastructure i.e.increasing number of computer and internet access area to reduce congestion;to improve the library to to increase and improve its sensitisation programmes on the availability,importance and advantages of using EIRs to increase library opening hours to 24 hours daily.Other recommendations were that the library should offer professional training to all students while information-literacy training should be part of the curriculum;to provide students with cheap computers and e-mail accounts for communication purposes;and provide user passwords/IDs to students where they are required.
Utilisation of Electronic Resources and Services , Utilisation of Computer based Resources and Services