Usability and Relevance of General and Scholarly Electronic Databases by Undergraduate Students: A Case Study of Moi University, Kenya
Okumu, Rose A.
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The main objective of libraries in academic institution is to support teaching, research and learning, this is achieved through selection, acquisition and processing of information resources which include general and scholarly electronic databases. The potential of these databases in accomplishing students academic and research needs can only be measured through usability. This study therefore sought to establish usability and relevance of general and scholarly among undergraduate students at Moi university. Thus, studying the potential of the databases in satisfying students’ educational needs is of great importance because accurate usage data relates to the increasing need for public universities to justify the use of budget allocation to acquire and maintain general and scholarly databases. Information seeking behavior model by Wilson and human centered design by Norman were used. The objectives of the study were to: determine extent to which features of an ideal databases ( ease-of-use, usefulness, familiarity) influence usability of general and scholarly databases; establish extent to which awareness of general and scholarly electronic databases among undergraduate students influence usability; determine extent to which quality of content of general and scholarly electronic databases influence usability among students in the university; establish extent to which courses offered influence usability of general and scholarly database among undergraduate students in the university. Survey method was employed; a sample of 96 from a target population 463 university students was utilized. Proportional sampling technique was used to determine the sample size of students per year of study and gender. Tools for data collection were questionnaires for students and interview schedule for the university librarian and librarian in charge of e-resources. Data collected which was quantitative and qualitative was analyzed through descriptive statistics, graphs and charts were used in converting numbers into visual displays. The study established that usability problems such as structure of the databases can disrupt students’ information seeking activity and affect information search accomplishment. The study also established that students preferred the least effort principle in usability of databases. The study further established that students believed that information retrieved from internet search engines was relevant compared to information retrieved from general and scholarly databases subscribed by the university. It is hoped that, the findings of the study will contribute to knowledge and assist institutions of higher learning in Kenya to identify and invest in systems and programmes that are user centered and posses’ potentials that enables students to accomplish their goals