Fall 2012: MLIS 510: Human Information Behavior

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Class meetings: Tuesday, 3:10-5:50pm, CI-201.
Instructor: Dr. Chirag Shah
Phone: (732) 932-7500 x8240
Office: Room 334 in SC&I
Office hours: Tuesday 2:00-3:00am, or by appointment

Course Description
The course Human Information Behavior focuses on the study of behavior vis-a-vis information as it bears on problems in library and information services, and forms a theoretical and professional base for such services. It will examine: people's information behaviors in diverse contexts; processes of information seeking, searching, using, and valuing. It will also focus on assessment of studies of human information behavior in terms of their relevance to library and information services.

A sense of adventure!

Course Materials
All required readings will be available for download through Sakai.
Recommended text: Fisher, K.E., Erdelez, S., & McKechnie, L. (2005). Theories of information behavior. Medford, NJ: Information Today. This book is recommended because it covers most of the theories we will be discussing as well as many others that are prevalent in the literature. The book is also quite useful when you begin your final project for the semester. The supplementary readings that I assign from this book are not required though they will enhance your understanding of the topics covered in this course.

Learning Objectives
In this course, students learn, read original research, discuss and write about the practice, study and theory of human information behavior. Human information behavior is the study of the interactions between people, the various forms of data, information, knowledge and wisdom that fall under the rubric of "information" and the situations (contexts) in which they interact. This course provides students an introduction to the human aspects of the world of library and information services, feedback on how to interact with the literature in our field, a greater awareness of the human information behavior around us and an opportunity to work with peers to analyze and present additional relevant research.
By the end of the course, students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate understanding of the theoretical foundations of human information behavior
  • Analyze, synthesize and evaluate research findings about human information behavior in a variety of different contexts
  • Be able to think critically and reflectively about human information behavior, engage in scholarly discussion in the online learning environment, and reflect on the learning process
  • Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively in an online environment to build knowledge of information behavior in a variety of different contexts
  • Be able to apply concepts and research findings from human information behavior to a variety of library and information service settings, as well as to other aspects of life

Instructional Methods
Our campus classes will be supported by Sakai, where all course resources, learning materials, readings will be housed. Weekly learning tasks will be posted so that you are well prepared for weekly class sessions. In some weeks, we will explicitly involve you in online discussions. In addition, regular journal entries will be required for you to document your reading reflections.

Sometimes, reading research papers can be a daunting task, especially with no background in research methodology, statistical procedures or qualitative techniques. Here are a couple of papers that might be of use, in addition to the readings already provided.

Weekly participation and discussion of readings, learning materials and ideas (30%)
Your grade for your participation in class and any online discussions is dependent upon your comments on what you have read; demonstrated familiarity with the subject matter; explicit linking of your discussion to lecture and reading materials; quality of interpretation; relevance; and interactivity (don't just make a statement - interact with what others said).

Journals (20%)
Weekly reflection on learning; readings materials and understanding of subject matter. These weekly reflections are more informal and reflective than formal, and will be submitted through Sakai.

Group presentations (20%)
You will be divided into work teams and your team will be expected to create a presentation and lead a discussion for your assigned week. This presentation and discussion will focus strongly on the information behaviors of groups of selected groups of people who are part of the specified context.

Term paper (30%)
Students will select an identifiable group of people and provide a cogent, research-based analysis and synthesis of the group?s information behaviors. In doing so, students will apply models, principles and concepts from the course, and based on the analysis, draw conclusions and implications for professional practice.

Course Evaluation
Grading is based on assignments, lab exercises, quizzes, etc. as well as class participation. Course grades are assigned according to the following:
  • A   (91-100%): Outstanding and excellent work of the highest standard, mastery of the topic, evidence of clear thinking, good writing, work submitted on time, well organized and polished.
  • B+ (85-90%:) Very good work, substantially better than the minimum standard, very good knowledge of the topic; error free.
  • B  (80-84%): Good work, better than the minimum standard, good knowledge of the topic.
  • C+ (74-79%): Minimum standard work, adequate knowledge of the topic.
  • C   (70-73%): Work barely meeting the minimum standard, barely adequate knowledge of the topic; errors.
  • D   (65-69%)  Writing not up to standard, disorganized, many errors
  • F  (< 65%): Unacceptable, inadequate work
Please note that only alpha grades will be assigned, and not numerical points.
A brief note about grades: Incomplete grades will not be given for this class. Depending on negotiated circumstances, incomplete work will receive a Temporary Grade (usually an F, D, or C) that will change after you submit the required work. It is your responsibility to check with the registrar's office and the department to ensure you meet the deadlines for this type of grades.

Course Policies
Announcements: Students are responsible for all announcements made in class, whether or not they are present when the announcements are made.
Late submissions: Deadlines are your responsibility. Late submissions may be accepted with a penalty. In the case of unforeseen emergencies (e.g. with a doctor's note), or with a prior permission from the instructor (obtained before the due date), late submissions will be graded normally. Late submissions will not receive any verbal or written feedback.
Communication: For emails, Rutgers accounts preferred. Always include your name (esp. if emailing from non-Rutgers account) and always include the course number (IMLS 510) in subject line. If you don't, your email most likely will not be read. This course uses Sakai, primarily for submitting assignments and posting grades. Speaking of communication, please turn off or silent your cellphones and anything that can spontaneously make noise before entering the class.
Attendance: Students are expected to attend and participate in all class meetings and lab sessions. If you cannot come to a class meeting, you should contact the instructor and provide an explanation. It is University policy (University Regulation on Attendance, Book 2, 2.47B, formerly 60.14f) to excuse without penalty students who are absent from class because of religious observance, and to allow the make-up of work missed because of such absence. If you choose to go on vacation and / or business trips, you are still responsible for the work due that week. In case of death/illness in family/misadventure, please let the instructor know as soon as you can so that appropriate arrangements can be made for you.

Academic Integrity
Academic integrity means, among other things:
  • Develop and write all of your own assignments.
  • Show in detail where the materials you use in your papers come from. Create citations whether you are paraphrasing authors or quoting them directly. Be sure always to show source and page number within the assignment and include a bibliography in the back.
  • Do not look over at the exams of others or use electronic equipment such as cell phones or MP3 players during exams.
  • Do not fabricate information or citations in your work.
  • Do not facilitate academic dishonesty for another student by allowing your own work to be submitted by others.
If you are doubtful about any issue related to plagiarism or scholastic dishonesty, please discuss it with the instructor.
The consequences of scholastic dishonesty are very serious. Rutgers' academic integrity policy is at this site. An overview of this policy may be found here. Multimedia presentations about academic integrity may be found here and here.

How to Succeed in this Course
  • Successful students will attend class regularly. If you know you must miss a class, please contact the instructor in advance, either by phone or email. You can obtain assignments or notes from a fellow classmate or from the instructor. In the case of a prolonged absence from class, you should schedule an appointment with the instructor so we can discuss the course material and concepts that you missed.
  • Successful students will pay close attention to the course goals and objectives, because they will help you master the course material. If you have any questions about any of the objectives, please ask the instructor. Questions are encouraged during class for clarification. Remember that you're probably not the only one in the class with the same question. If you have questions about material from previous classes, please email me prior to the next class session, and I'll address your question at the beginning of the class session, prior to any quizzes.
  • Successful students will talk to their classmates about the course material. You will find that they can help you understand many complex issues.
  • Successful students will come prepared to the class with assigned readings for that class. This will help you comprehend the material for that class better. Regular assignments will also be given at the end of each class. Doing these assignments and turning them on time (typically before the next class), will help you obtain higher-order learning goals for this course.

  1. Access the class material promptly and on time.
  2. Respect yourself, classmates, and the instructor.
  3. Participate in class discussions.
  4. Display preparedness for class through completing reading assignments.
  5. Present content knowledgeably with supported reasoning.

Chirag Shah