Individuality and Diversity among Undergraduates' Academic Information Behaviors: An Exploratory Study

  • Mizrachi, Diane
  • Received : 2013.08.13
  • Accepted : 2013.11.29
  • Published : 2013.12.30


The purpose of this study is to explore the information management behaviors of undergraduate students in their dormitory rooms, using Personal Information Management (PIM) as the theoretical framework. Ethnographic methods were applied to study how students devise their own systems combining digital and traditional tools to collect, create, manipulate, organize, and manage the information they need to fulfill their roles as university students. Results show a broad diversity of behaviors influenced more by individual learning styles and preferences than high-tech gadgetry. It is proposed that just as every individual has unique learning styles and preferences, so too do we have individual information styles, and we apply our tools and gadgets in our own ways to best accommodate our own styles.


Information behaviors;personal information management;college students


  1. Raine, L., Zickuhr, K., Purcell, K., Madden, M., & Brenner, J. (2012). The rise of e-reading. Retrieved from 16 July, 2012.
  2. Seamans, N. H. (2002). Student perceptions of information literacy: insights for librarians. Reference Services Review, 30(2), 112-123.
  3. Valentine, B. (2001). The legitimate effort in research papers: Student commitment versus faculty expectations. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 27, 2(2001): 107-15.
  4. Valtonen, T., Hacklin, S., Dillon, P., Vesisenaho, M., Kukkonen, J., & Hietanen, A. (2012). Perspectives on personal learning environments held by vocational students. Computers & Education, 58, 732-739. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2011.09.025.
  5. Walters, W.H. (2009). Google Scholar Search Performance: Comparative Recall and Precision. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 9(1), 5-24.
  6. Weiler, A. (2005). Information-seeking behavior in generation Y students: Motivation, critical thinking, and learning theory. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31(1), 46-53.
  7. Whitmire, E. (2004). The relationship between undergraduates' epistemological reflection, reflective judgment and their information seeking behavior. Information Processing & Management, 40(1), 97-111.
  8. Wonpyo, Y. (2010, Feb. 22). University releases Kindle pilot data. The Daily Princetonian, retrieved Sept. 26, 2010, from
  9. Kuhlthau, C.C. (1991). Inside the Search Process: Information Seeking from the User's Perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 361-371.<361::AID-ASI6>3.0.CO;2-#
  10. Malone, T.W. (1983). How Do People Organize their Desks? Implications for the Design of Office Information Systems. ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems, 1(1), 99-112.
  11. Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R., & Bronnick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61-68. Retrieved November 8, 2013 from
  12. McMillan, S. J., & Morrison, M. (2006). Coming of age with the Internet: A qualitative exploration of how the Internet has become an integral part of young people's lives. New Media & Society, 8(1), 73-95.
  13. Mellon, C. (1986). Library anxiety: a grounded theory and its development. College & Research Libraries, 47, 160-165.
  14. Miedema, J. (2009). "Slow Reading." Duluth, MN: Litwin Books.
  15. Mizrachi, D. (2010). Undergraduates' academic information and library behaviors: preliminary results. Reference services review, 38(4), 571-580.
  16. Mizrachi, D. (2011). How do they manage it? An exploratory study of undergraduate students in their personal academic ecologies. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.
  17. Paretta, L., & Catalano, A. (2013). What Students Really do in the Library: An Observational Study. The Reference Librarian, 54(2), 157-167.
  18. Pena-Shaff, J., Martin, W., & Gay, G. (2001). An epistemological framework for analyzing student interactions in computer-mediated communication environments. Journal of interactive learning research, 12(1), 41-68.
  19. Duke, L. M., & Asher, A. D. (Ed.). (2012). College libraries and student culture: What we now know. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
  20. Foster, N.F., & Gibbons, S. (eds.). (2007). Studying Students: The Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester. Chicago. Association of College & Research Libraries.
  21. Agosto, D. (2002). Bounded rationality and satisficing in young people's Web-based decision making. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53(1), 16-27.
  22. Barreau, D. (2008). From novice to expert: Personal information management in learning contexts. CHI 2008, Florence, Italy. Retrieved January 27, 2011, from
  23. Hardof-Jaffe, S., Hershkovitz, A., Abu-Kishk, H., Bergman, O., & Nachmias, R. (2009). Students' Organization Strategies of Personal. Journal Of Digital Information, 10(5). Retrieved January 27, 2011, from
  24. Hardof-Jaffe, S., & Nachmias, R. (2013). Students' personal information management, In Jan Herrington et al. (Eds), Proceedings of the World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 820-828). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved November 8, 2013 from
  25. Hewitt, A. (2010). R U Talking 2 Me? UCLA Magazine, July: 23-25, 48.
  26. Jones, W. (2006). Personal Information Management. The Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 41, 453-503.
  27. Jones, W. (2008). Keeping found things found: The study and practice of personal information management. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann.
  28. Jones, W. (2012). The futureof personal information management: Part I: Our information, always and forever. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool.
  29. Bergman, Beyth-Marom, & Nachmias. (2003). The user-subjective approach to personal information management systems. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 54(9), 872-878.
  30. Carr, N. (2013, issue 004). Paper versus pixel: The science of reading shows that print and digital experiences are complementary. Nautilus Quarterly, Retrieved November 8, 2013 from
  31. Young, J. (2010, Apr. 19). Kindle failed tests at several colleges. Will iPads do better? The Chronicle of Higher Education - Wired Campus, Retrieved Sept. 26, 2010, from

Cited by

  1. Building a Better World with our Information: The Future of Personal Information Management, Part 3 vol.7, pp.4, 2015,
  2. A Study on the Recognition of Users and Librarians of Obstructive Factors in Online Reference Services vol.50, pp.1, 2016,