A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Novice Undergraduate Students with Online Finding Aids

by Johnston, Rita Diane

Abstract (Summary)
This paper presents findings from a study that explored obstacles undergraduate students who are novice users of archives face when using online finding aids, and to what extent these barriers negatively impact their ability to use finding aids to access primary source materials. A usability study of four different finding aids was conducted with eight undergraduate students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The study participants completed a set of tasks with the finding aids in individual sessions, which were recorded. Then participants were asked while reviewing their recording in a stimulated recall session to describe any characteristics of the finding aids that posed a particular challenge or that made using them easier. Although participants faced barriers, particularly in the language, organization, and visual presentation of finding aids, as a whole the subjects performed well and were able to answer most of the questions in a reasonable amount of time. Two factors that helped the novice users use the finding aids were reliance on general computer and web navigation skills and taking the time to learn about the organization and structure of the finding aids.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Helen Tibbo

School:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

School Location:USA - North Carolina

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:archives cataloging use studies internet resources end user searching finding aids


Date of Publication:11/24/2008

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