LECTURERS’ ELECTRONIC INFORMATION RESOURCES RETRIEVAL SKILLS, USE, AND TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS IN PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES IN MONROVIA, LIBERIA
- Background to the Study
The teaching effectiveness of lecturers in institutions of higher learning is the key to accomplishing their purpose of existence, which is to inculcate knowledge in their students. More so, students’ academic achievement depends largely on the teaching effectiveness of the lecturers. Wong (2009) attested that, in order to improve student learning, the structure do not need to be changed, but the instructional practices of teachers are to be changed. The schools that appear to do best are those that have an unmistakable thought of what sort of instructional practice they wish to deliver and after that outline a structure to run with it. To put it plainly, “the better the teacher teaches, the better the student learns (Wong, 2009).” Teaching effectiveness is therefore important because effective teaching helps students’ learning.
In today’s progressively diverse learning and teaching environment, there have been endless discourses and arguments on lecturers’ teaching effectiveness in higher institutions of learning. Indeed, even with many years of research, the subject of lecturers’ teaching effectiveness is yet to be settled (Chuan and Heng, n.d). The objective of each higher institution of learning is research efficiency, where students and lecturers can embark on assignments, scholastic papers, research papers, e.t.c., in order to bring about new knowledge or solve problems. This goal can be achieved when lecturers have the needed information to be effective in their teaching field.
In an interview with Reuters on August 17, 2013, in her office, the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf referred to the Liberia’s education system as “a mess” needing a complete repair (Toweh, Felix, & Roche, 2013). This she said comprehensive of the Private Universities in Monrovia, the capital city of the country, which make up around 87.5 percent of the private universities in the nation, and 80 percent of the aggregate number of universities in the country. This statement was attributed to the low level in teaching effectiveness of teachers and lecturers in schools and universities. This statement of the President indicates that lecturers at the universities are reportedly not effective in their teaching, which is reflected in the performances of students. This calls for a re-examination of teaching effectiveness among teachers and/or lecturers.
Teaching effectiveness is the capacity of an educator to instill learning and abilities in students, and additionally, change their life practices for the better (Popoola and Haliso 2009). In order for lecturers to impact the required knowledge in their students and also for their own personal improvement through their teaching effectiveness, they need different types of research and teaching information. Additionally, Teaching Effectiveness alludes to instructors’ capacity to enhance students learning as measured by students’ gain on institutionalized achieved test (Little, Goe, and Bell, 2009). In a world of educational competition today, the majority of the institutions of higher education and students at large are requesting for effective lecturing and education to happen, both inside and outside the classrooms. Effective lecturers are relied upon to help increase the level of students’ inspiration to learn in order for students’ scholastic and nonscholastic accomplishments to be further upgraded. This will significantly contribute to students’ satisfaction in learning, and affect the image of the institution (Helgesen and Nesset, 2007) All these can only be possible if lecturers have the knowledge and access to the myriad information resources.
Information resources is defined as information which has been changed into a meaningful format, that is exact, timely, particular and sorted out for a specific reason, and given within a scope that gives it relevant meaning (businessdictionary.Com). This increases certainty, thereby increasing knowledge. Information resources are processed by information processing hardware and software systems and provided to users in many forms such as data, voice, text, and image. From the time of the arrival of information communication technologies (ICTs), these information resources can be accessed as easy as possible and timely. Information and communication technology (ICT) has been identified to be a very powerful educational tool. It can be defined as technological materials which are utilized to transmit, prepare, store, make, show, share information through the digital process. This includes technologies such as DVD, satellite system, radio, TV, video, phone, and computer hardware and software. The introduction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) brought tremendous changes into the educational setting of the world. It has given access to Electronic Information Resources (EIR) that are widely seen as enhancing learning.
The use of Electronic information resources can help raise schools’ standards by improving the quality of teaching, learning, and management. With the use of electronic information resources, lecturers can be effective in their teaching careers. Despite the coming of the information age with the Internet and other technologies through which electronic information resources can be assessed, numerous universities lecturers still do not have the information communication technology literateness skills that are required to explore and utilize the surplus of available information today (Akinnagbe and Baiyeri, 2011).
The Library and Information Technology Glossary refers to electronic information resources as all of the information materials that are provided by library via a network, and computer. Electronic information resources as products are produce through information communication technologies (ICTs) (Olasore, and Adekunmisi, 2015). In a nutshell, Electronic information resources are information found in computers, the internet, and all computer-related materials. Electronic information resources are the bedrock for the provision of precise and timely information for better educational results. They make up a vast amount of materials for teaching, learning, and research. With the explosion of information and the arrival of new information technologies, information needed by lecturers are for the most part found in libraries’ electronic resources, computer laboratories, and information and communication technology centers. According to Togia, and Tsigilis, (2009), electronic resources are valued instruments for study, research, and learning. They have several benefits compare to the conventional print-based resources because they have up-to-date information, they offer advanced searching capabilities, can be updated regularly, and provide access to information in the absence of constraints of location, and time. These electronic resources are available through ICTs.
These technologies have brought a substitute to enable access to academic and scholarly information from around the world for enhancing learning. In spite of the fact that it has rightly been said that what is with education cannot be fixed by technology, there is no uncertainty that technology has dominated our present day life. There is a worldwide acknowledgment of the necessity to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education as we go in the age of globalization where information is flowing freely through the internet and satellite hold influence in universal information
spreading of knowledge. The role of technology in learning and teaching is speedily becoming one of the most significant and widely discussed educational policy issues (Rosen and Well, 1995; and Thierer, 2000). Most specialists in the area of education concurred that when information communication technology is appropriately utilized, hold incredible guarantee to enhance learning and teaching and modeling labor force opportunities (Aduwa-Ogiegbaen, and Iyamu, (2005). ICT does store EIR, as well as help in enabling teaching. Hence, retrieval skills of electronic information are very crucial for retrieving information in this age of technology that majority of the needed information for research and teaching are retrieved from electronic gadgets and places (Ekenna, & Iyabo 2013).
Electronic information resources retrieval skills are the ability to access information from ICTs. Without these skills, it is challenging to retrieve needed information. For example, Ekenna, and Iyabo, (2013) expressed that there is an increase in the provision of electronic resources in Nigerian university libraries, yet studies have demonstrated that there is a low utilization of the resources because of lack of information retrieval skills. Additionally, in a study conducted by Bhukuvhani, Chiparausha, and Zuvalinyenga, (2012), showed that lecturers who went to the Electronic Information Resources Skills Training used some electronic information resources to search for information for use for research and lectures. In fact, the greater part of the lecturers conceded that it was at the workshops and seminars that they were able to learn of electronic resources. This shows that EIR retrieval skills training is needed for lecturers. Some of the skills needed include operating on computers, navigating on the internet to select the appropriate information needed, downloading information from the internet, and so forth. It is therefore important that lecturers possess these skills in order to be able to retrieve required information from the available electronic information resources to be more effective in their jobs. The utilization of electronic information resources by universities lecturers depend generally on the skills of every user to find distinct information components (Okiki, 2012). It is therefore necessary that lecturers acquire necessary skills to be able to retrieve as well use these electronic information resources for their effectiveness in teaching and research.
In the vast majority of the universities in Liberia, however, one of the oldest nations in Africa, the introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and electronic information resources have not been prevalent both among university
lecturers and students. This is to some level due to the fourteen years of war that have set country fourteen years behind development. However, the war ended since about thirteen years ago. In 2010, Daren Wilkins a fulfilled Professional of ICT with more than 12 years of involvement in the ICT work, described the impact of information and communication technologies on the future of Liberia. Rising up out of 14 years of war and over 150 years of underdevelopment, poverty, and absence of education, Liberia is currently behind modernization with respect to the development of technologies (Wilkins, 2010). For further thought about the universities in Liberia, technology use and lecturers teaching effectiveness, most lecturers use the conventional materials and methods of teaching. Most lecturers use textbooks to teach and most of the lectures are done in classrooms using oral communication.
Thus in this dissertation, a guided tour to some of the main aspects of electronic information resources retrieval skills and use in line of lecturers’ teaching effectiveness is considered.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Teaching effectiveness is the ability of a lecturer to inculcate knowledge and skills in students, as well as change their behavior for the better. It also refers to lecturers’ ability to improve students learning as measured by students’ gain on standardized achieved test. For lecturers to be able to inculcate the required knowledge and skills in their students, they need to access and use electronic information resources. These electronic information resources needed to improve lecturers’ teaching effectiveness can only be accessed if lecturers have the retrieval skills which will allow them to access the right information, and use the acquired information to teach their students.
However, it is not certain if private university lecturers are effective in their teaching work or not, or, would it be lack of skills needed to retrieve electronic information resources for teaching effectiveness are lacking as research has indicated that the utilization of these materials by lecturers in universities highly depend on skills they have to find distinct elements of knowledge. Also, it is observed from the literature reviewed that the lecturers’ teaching effectiveness is often measured from the students’ perspective and not from lecturers’ perspective as it relates to their EIR retrieval skills and use. It is in view of these, that this work sought to find out the
teaching effectiveness of lecturers as it relates to their Electronic Information Resources (EIR) Retrieval Skills, and use in selected private universities in Monrovia, Liberia.
- Objective of the Study
The main objective of this research is to examine the teaching effectiveness of lecturers at the selected private universities in Monrovia, Liberia as it relates to their electronic information resources retrieval skills and use. The specific objectives are to:
- find out the availability of electronic information resources (EIR) in these
private universities in Monrovia, Liberia;
- find out the electronic information resources retrieval skills of lecturers at the
- identify EIR used by lecturers in the private universities;
- assess the teaching effectiveness of lecturers in the private universities
- identify purpose for lecturers use of EIR;
- find out the challenges lecturers face in the use of EIR in the private
- establish if any significant relationship exists between lecturers’ retrieval skills
of electronic information resources and teaching effectiveness;
- determine if EIR use significantly enhance lecturers’ teaching effectiveness in private universities in Monrovia, Liberia; and
- find out the combined effect of electronic information resources retrieval skills, and use on teaching effectiveness of lecturers in the private universities in Monrovia, Liberia.
1.4 Research Questions
In meeting the research objectives, the study attempted to address the following
- what Electronic Information Resources (EIR) are available to lecturers at the
private universities in Monrovia, Liberia?
- what EIR retrieval skills do lecturers in the private universities have?
- what are the EIR used by lecturers at these private universities?
- how effective are lecturers in teaching at the private universities in Monrovia, Liberia?
- what are the reasons lecturers at these private universities use EIR?
- what are the challenges lecturers at these private universities face in the use of
The following null hypotheses were tested in the study at 0.05 level of significance:
H01: There is no significant relationship between lecturers’ retrieval skills of electronic information resources and teaching effectiveness.
H02: Electronic Information Resources use does not significantly enhances lecturers’ teaching effectiveness.
H03: There is no significant combined effect of electronic information resources retrieval skills, and use on teaching effectiveness of lecturers in the private universities in Monrovia, Liberia.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study focuses on electronic information resources retrieval skills, use and lecturers’ teaching effectiveness in selected private universities in Monrovia, Liberia. There are eight private universities operating in Liberia. The private universities in Liberia are United Methodist University, Saint Clements University, African Methodist Episcopal Zion University, Adventist University of West Africa, African Bible College University, African Methodist Episcopal University, Cuttington University, and Stella Maris Polytechnic. Out of the eight private universities, only one [Cuttington University] is out of Monrovia. Out of the seven private universities in Monrovia, four were randomly selected to form the scope of this study which are:
- United Methodist University (UMU)
- Adventist University of West Africa (AUWA)
- Saint Clements University College-Liberia
- African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU)
Private universities in Monrovia are the best for such a research because they make up
a high percentage of the universities in Liberia. Results from these selected private universities will definitely represent the universities in Liberia. Four universities were randomly selected out of the seven universities because of the following reasons: To have accurate information. Studying selected universities help provide accurate information. Another reason is cost. It is expensive to study every university in Liberia
or Monrovia. Studying a potion requires fewer resources and good result. The researcher also considered the fact that there are only two public (government) universities in Liberia – one in Monrovia and the other in Hyper City, Maryland County. Their results might not reflect the image of all the universities. Lastly, time was also considered. In studying all of the universities, it will be time-consuming, as compared to studying selected.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The study of electronic information resources retrieval skills and use of the resources are very important to teaching effectiveness of lecturers in private universities of a post-war country like Liberia, especially in a time when everything is going toward digital. The findings from this study are going to benefit the tertiary education system in Liberia because the focus is on private universities, which make up about 80 percent of the universities in Liberia. The results would inform higher institutions on the importance of having EIR retrieval skills, and the utilization of Electronic Resources. This might encourage universities in Liberia to start investing in their lecturers’ Information Technology skills.
Findings from this research would also reveal the importance of the use of electronic information resources, and the impact they have on lecturers’ teaching effectiveness at the university level. In addition to the private universities, lecturers from public universities, and colleges within the country would also see the need of using EIR to enhance their teaching careers. This work could serve as a guide to upcoming researchers in the related field because through the researcher observation during his literature review and research process, there was no research of such in Liberia. The study would also add to the existing literature in the area of library and information science management which is not a popular field in Liberia.
Lastly, the result would be of importance to lawmakers or policies makers. It would inform them about the importance of electronic information in the nation’s school system. Through this, they would help establish policies that would be of importance to lecturers in Liberian universities and school system at large.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
The following terms are operationalized for the understanding of this study.
Electronic Information Resources (EIR): This is information resources available in electronic devices or Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Examples: e-book, e-journal, information on the web, web database, etc.
Electronic information Retrieval Skills: The skills needed, or ability of a lecturer to obtain electronic information from ICT/sources. Examples are: downloading resources from the internet, typing on the keyboard, using the mouse to navigate on the computer, use of Boolean operators like AND, OR etc.
Lecturer: This refers to the teacher at the university level who teaches students.
Retrieval Skills: The abilities to obtain something from its depository/source without difficulties.
Selected Private Universities: The Selected Private Universities referred to in this work are: The United Methodist University (UMU), African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU), Adventist University of West Africa (AUWA), and Saint Clements University College Liberia (SCUC-Liberia). Additionally, private universities are not own by government, but private individuals, or church organizations.
Teaching Effectiveness: This is being able to impact required knowledge to students
as demanded by the course description. Teaching students what, how, and when to know as required.
Use of Electronic Resources: This is the application of information obtained through electronic means for teaching effectiveness.
Private Universities: United Methodist University, Saint Clements University, African Methodist Episcopal Zion University, Adventist University of West Africa, African Bible College University, African Methodist Episcopal University, Cuttington University, and Stella Maris Polytechnic. Though it carries the title “polytechnic”, but Stella Maris Polytechnic is a full university to offers Associate and Bachelors Degrees.