How Students Seek Information in the Context of Fitness and Physical Exercise

Introduction

In the last decades, our society evolved from information scarcity to information abundance. For the many things that we need to do in everyday life, we often find ourselves overloaded with information on how to do things. A visit to an Internet search engine (e.g., Google) or a visit to an online video library (e.g., YouTube) can often lead to multiple results on how to do the same thing. The problem of information seeking often turns into a filtering and evaluation problem.

In the context of information abundance, Information Literacy becomes a vital competence so that individuals can filter information (Abdallah, 2013) in everyday life. This is important in order to achieve desirable outcomes.

In this research, we built upon extant theory on information literacy (Sample, 2020), rich media (Ishii, et al. 2019) and information seeking in everyday life (Savolainen, 2017) in the context of students’ fitness and physical exercise. This is important as student practices of fitness and physical exercise can lead to desirable outcomes such as health and well-being, or negative outcomes such as pain and injury. In a world where so much information is available in multiple formats, it matters to understand how students seek information for the practice of fitness and physical exercise.

Method

This qualitative study addresses “how students seek information in the context of fitness and physical exercise”. This work-in-progress research is based on eight interviews and in-situ observations on the premises of a Nordic University that provides sports services to its students. We cover different fitness modalities such as calisthenics, basketball, weightlifting, stretching, and foam rolling.

Preliminary Findings

We found that even if students exhibited elevated levels of literacy in academic issues, they sought and evaluated the information pertaining to their fitness and physical exercise in a quite different way from their study and academic issues. As expected, students preferred rich media information in digital format, but it is striking how every student consumed information in a completely unique way – most of them consumed very different content even if practicing the same modality. This is explained by the high personalization, high interactivity, and high intrusiveness of the information providers’ platforms. Students valued the corporeal landscape of information literacy. Also, they consumed published research on sports science, but only indirectly. Some often provided information to others as well.

We will discuss the integration of our findings with information literacy theory, rich media theory, and information seeking in everyday life. Furthermore, we will also suggest avenues for future research that should engage in cooperation with other disciplines (e.g., media studies, sports science, artificial intelligence).

References

  • Abdallah, N. B. (2013). Activity theory as a framework for understanding information literacy. In S. Kurbanoğlu et al. (Eds.), Worldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice, European Conference on Information Literacy, ECIL 2013, Istanbul, Turkey, October 22–25, 2013: Proceedings. Communications in Computer and Information Science (CCIS) 397 (pp. 11–30). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  • Ishii, K., Lyons, M. M., & Carr, S. A. (2019). Revisiting media richness theory for today and future. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, 1(2), 124–131.
  • Sample, A. (2020). Historical development of definitions of information literacy: A literature review of selected resources. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 46(2), 102116.
  • Savolainen, R. (2017). Everyday life information seeking. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences: Fourth Edition, (pp. 1506–1515). CRC Press.

Jose Teixeira
Åbo Akademi University, Åbo, Finland

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