Information-Seeking Behaviour of First-Year Undergraduate Students at Mzuzu University, Malawi

Keywords: undergraduate students, information behaviour, Library and Information Science, Mzuzu University


The paper presents a study that examined the information-seeking behaviour of first-year undergraduate students at Mzuzu University, Malawi, by focusing on three research objectives, namely the information needs of first-year undergraduate students, the predominant sources of information for first-year undergraduate students, and information-seeking barriers of first-year undergraduate students. The study stratified the sample into five faculties and distributed questionnaires with a mix of closed-ended and open-ended questions to 215 first-year undergraduate students. According to the study findings, 135 (62.7%) students who returned the questionnaires predominantly need information for academic work such as assignments, test and examinations. The predominant sources of information used by students are library books, lecture notes or handouts, and text books assigned to the course with scores of 100 (74%), 98 (72.6%) and 63 (46.7%) respectively. The study concludes that as much as library books are the main source of information, the unavailability of relevant books, poor Internet connectivity, students’ lack of computer and search skills, frequent power outages, and underdeveloped ICT infrastructure including low Internet bandwidth, were found to be the inhibiting factors that students faced in accessing and using some information resources at Mzuzu University. Mzuzu University can mitigate some of these challenges by investing in ICT infrastructure and through the department of Library and Information Science and the library working collaboratively in teaching information literacy to students.

Author Biographies

George Theodore Chipeta, Mzuzu University
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Science.
Gift Alfred, B Dube, Mzuzu University

Children’s and Outreach Services Librarian at Mzuzu University Library and part-time lecturer in the Department of Information Science.

Winner D Chawinga, University of the Western Cape

Lecturer at the Department of Library and Information Science at Mzuzu University.

Currently pursuing doctoral studies in the Department of Library and Information Science at the University ofthe  Western Cape in South Africa.

Lizzie Malemia, Mzuzu University

Periodicals Librarian working with Mzuzu University Library responsible for print and electronic journal access.

Maloto Green Chaura, Mzuzu University

Malawiana and Special Collections/Electronic Librarian at Mzuzu University Library and Learning Resources Centre.

Adjunct lecturer at the Department of Information Science at Mzuzu University.