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Title:Instructor Influences Versus Text Influences in the Selection of Subject Descriptors by Undergraduate Students
Author(s):Krieger, Tillie
Department / Program:Library Science
Discipline:Library Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Library Science
Abstract:Purpose: To investigate how individuals learn the specialized vocabulary of some field and to determine if this phenomenon has any practical implications for the design of printed indexes and other information retrieval tools.
Method: Undergraduate students in political science and in animal science who were writing a paper for their course were asked to supply an abstract of the paper and the subject descriptors they felt would enable an individual to locate the paper, assuming it were to be published. Further, they indicated if the terms they selected were learned from their instructor, from their readings for the course, or were terms known outside of the class for which they were writing this paper.
The data were analyzed to see which terms derived from the various sources. The terms were compared with terms used in Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), 8th edition, as well as in an index which seemed to best match the scope of their topics: Information Bank Thesaurus (IBT), for the political science students and Biological & Agricultural Index (BAI), for the animal science students. Many students indicated that they used Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature (RG) to locate information and the terms used by the students were matched with that index as well. Usable forms were received from 104 students which contained 754 terms, which had 843 assigned influences.
The 754 terms supplied included 688 attributed to a single influence or source, the remaining 66 were attributed to two or, in a few cases, to all three influences. The fact that multiple influences apply to some terms gives some indication of the complexities involved in learning a specialized vocabulary.
Findings: The primary hypothesis investigated was that undergraduate students would feel more influenced in their choice of terms by their instructors than by their texts. This hypothesis was supported for the animal science students by not for the political science students. The political science students indicated that the influence of their texts was stronger in their choices of terms. These results were statistically significant for both groups.
Mixed results were also achieved for the secondary hypothesis, namely that instructor-derived terms would better match the terms used in information retrieval tools. Foir animal science students the matching of terms that are instructor-influenced is less frequent than the matching of terms that are text-influenced is less frequent than the matching of terms that are text-influenced. The situation for the political science students was reversed: the instructor-influenced terms match more frequently than those that are text-influenced. The differences are small and not statistically significant however.
Issue Date:1981
Description:175 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203506
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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