First-generation college students' information seeking: Their personality traits and source use behavior in coursework-related context



This study examines first-generation college (FGC) students' information seeking in coursework-related situations and the relationship between personality and source use behavior. A web survey was used to collect data. Four-hundred and fifty FGC students participated in the study. A two-step cluster analysis was used to identify three subgroups of personality profiles from the sample. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) and multiple regression analyses were used to analyze the data. Results show that extroverts used human sources more frequently across all coursework-related situations and tended to consult peers in the same course in their information seeking processes. Conscientious students tended to consult professors and advisors in their coursework-related information seeking processes. Calm and open-minded extroverts consulted human sources (both experts and non-experts) more often and used more diverse sources than nervous and close-minded introverts. The study enriches FGC student literature in information behavior and further incorporates personality traits as predictors of information use. The study also implies that universities and academic libraries should support orientation programs and organizations that can help FGC students, especially introverts, develop their social networks and have an easy transition into college.