Data Seeking Behavior of Economics Undergraduate Students: An Exploratory Study

Betty Garrison, Nina Exner


This article investigates the information seeking behavior of undergraduate economics students to determine their effectiveness in locating data sets for a multiple regression analysis assignment and seeks to discover how students pursue the process of learning to find and use data. A study was conducted in fall and spring 2015 to find out (1) what influences affect students’ ways of seeking data sets; and (2) what changes occur over the course of students’ data search. The findings say that while only about 10% of students started with the library, either a library database or a librarian, nearly half eventually used the library in some form for this course project. The conclusion reached as a result of the survey was that undergraduates have widely varying data search concepts, that more of the students look for personal interest data than business discipline data, and that the searching part of economics students’ first regression project can add a noticeable amount of time to the assignment before they can even get started working on the regression itself. Included are ideas for further research and ways to reach students before data searching gets frustrating, as well as thoughts on how to structure data search learning and how to use insights into student behaviors to overcome the reluctance of some faculty.


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