International Students Speaking Metaphorically about Using Online Information to Learn

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This paper explores metaphors that international students use to describe their experiences of using online information resources to learn. The metaphors contribute to findings of a recent doctoral study, which reveals a complex interplay between students’ interactions with online resources, their affective and reflective responses, and cultural-linguistic dimensions. Drawing on various data – from interviews, observations, and documentary sources – the findings create a multifaceted word picture of international students’ online information use in a culturally diverse higher education environment. The picture is enriched by metaphors, such as: ‘online resources are the second-best friend of the international student’, ‘using online resources is like catching the bus to uni’, and ‘it’s a voyage into the unknown’. The students’ metaphors reflect the personal meanings that they attach to using online information resources, and also provide insight into their learning needs. In presenting student experience, this paper also demonstrates the power of metaphors in qualitative research to enhance understandings, by allowing the researcher to view and present data through different lenses.


Keywords: International Students, Information Literacy Learning, Metaphor, Higher Education, Qualititative Research
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Hilary Hughes

Coordinator & Lecturer, Master of Education (Teacher-Librarianship)
School of Cultural and Language Studies
Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Hilary Hughes is Coordinator/Lecturer of the Master of Education (Teacher-Librarianship) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia. Her research interests include using information and learning in culturally diverse, and online, higher education environments. Hilary is completing a doctorate at QUT entitled 'International students using online information resources to learn", with Professor Christine Bruce as Principal Supervisor, and Professor Susan Danby and Dr Michael Middleton as Associate Supervisors. She won 2 QUT teaching awards in 2006, and a QUT Vice Chancellor's Performance Award in 2008. Hilary’s qualifications include: Master of Librarianship (Sheffield University, UK), BA Combined Honours in Spanish and Romance Linguistics (Birmingham University, UK), Certificate IV in Workplace Training & Assessment, NAATI accreditation (translator Spanish-English), Associate of Australian Library and Information Association. Prior to her current position at QUT, Hilary gained experience as librarian/information literacy educator at: Central Queensland University (Brisbane International Campus), QUT, Northpoint Institute of TAFE (Brisbane), Education Queensland Corporate Library, Glenden Town Library (Nebo Shire, Queensland), and Longlands College of Further Education, Middlesbrough, UK. Hilary's personal interests include: Music, theatre, reading, travel, swimming, walking.

Prof Christine Bruce

Professor, Faculty of Science and Technology, Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Christine Bruce is Professor in the Faculty of Information Technology at QUT, Brisbane, Australia. She has extensive interests in ICT users and ICT education. Information use, in a technology context, has been a long term focus, particularly is it interrelates with academic, community and workplace learning. Christine regularly delivers keynote addresses, seminars and workshops internationally around information literacy education. Christine was awarded a Carrick Associate Fellowship,(an Australian national teaching fellowship) in 2008. Her long-term research concerns revolve around the perceptual worlds of information and technology users, including learning in the higher education context. This has led me into several different research areas, including: Information literacy, IT learners’ experience of critical concepts, Postgraduate study and supervision, Learning to program, IT researchers’ interpretation of their territory

Ref: L09P0724