Dissertation Information for Sherry R. Crow
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Exploring the experiences of upper elementary school children who are intrinsically motivated to seek information
Abstract: This dissertation, based on a research study undertaken during the fall of 2008, sought to understand the experiences of children in order to inform school library media specialists' practice in fostering the development of intrinsic motivation for information seeking in young patrons. Research was conducted using an inductive naturalistic approach in order to address the following question, "what are the experiences in the lives of upper elementary school children that foster an intrinsic motivation to seek information?" The conceptual framework for the study was composed of the Taxonomy of Tasks (Bilal, 2002a) and A Theoretical Model of Urban Teen Development (Agosto & Hughes-Hassell, 2006a, 2006b). Self-determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985b) provided the basis for the theoretical framework of the study. Participants were selected from a pool of fifth graders from three diverse schools within a single community. Initially, the children were chosen based on the results of a survey especially developed for the study. Interviews and a drawing activity were used to collect the data that served as the basis for analysis. Analysis of the data indicates that students came from various family situations and socio-economic backgrounds, exhibited different communication styles, and described varied school experiences. They also exhibited an affinity for play, a tendency toward creativity, and the disposition of non-competitiveness. With regard to their information seeking behavior, informants indicated a variety of information seeking styles and interests, engaged in information seeking in order to facilitate maturation into their next developmental stage (adolescence), and recounted diverse and successful information seeking episodes. A point of passion experience occurred in the lives of all of the informants, and the presence of "anchor" relationships helped in fostering their intrinsic motivation for information seeking. Students specified that interest/relevance of topic, working in a group, at least some choice in the task, creating a final product, and fewer time constraints are all components of intrinsically motivating information seeking episodes. Implications and recommendations for practitioners include suggestions for defining the missions, directing the services, and structuring the environments of school library programs toward the goal of supporting and developing intrinsic motivation in school children.
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