The information resource needs of undergraduate distance education students and the academic library's role in meeting these needs
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This research examines the reading and information needs of undergraduate distance education students at Curtin University of Technology and the academic library's role in meeting those needs. Twelve undergraduate units offered at Curtin in second semester were selected as the prime units of this research. The research was conducted in three phases in 1996. First, the documents supplied to the distance education students were examined to determine what reading was specified and/or suggested to the students. Next, the unit co-ordinators responsible for the units were interviewed to find out what reading and information literacy expectations they held for their distance education students. Finally, the non-metropolitan area students enrolled in the units were interviewed to find out if they felt they could complete the units using only supplied readings and prescribed texts. They were also asked about obtaining resources through Curtin University Library and Information Service or other sources. Their use of telecommunications and computers was also examined.This research found there were as many models of the practice of distance education as there were units surveyed. There was a high degree of agreement between the unit co-ordinators and students on the possibility of completing their associated units using only the supplied reading plus the textbooks. The students could not complete their units using only the supplied reading but many could successfully complete units using the supplied reading and set texts.Although all students were using computers there was a significant difference in the number of students that had access to a computer linked to telecommunications and the number of students that were using this access. Only a small proportion of the students used this facility to access the Curtin Off Campus Library Services.There was a lack of knowledge by students of the services and resources that were available to them. Responses from students indicated they were not effectively informed about the services and resources available to them. This lack of knowledge of existing services pointed to a need for improved marketing of the services to this group of students. An improved level of co-operation between the library, the unit co-ordinators and the University Distance Education Service is recommended to address some of the issues raised in this research. This co-operation should include working with academic staff in unit and course design and a review of the promotion of all services to distance education students.
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