Projecting community information needs
Katie M. Blevins, Brian MacAuley, Harry Robinson, and Michelle Young
This paper was based on a project as part of the COMM 506 course.
Dr. S. Shyam Sundar
Despite the evolving nature of communities, which can be attributed in large part to how new technologies have affected communication within communities, very little research has been done on the influence of these technologies. Less research has been done on the ways new technology could improve communication within communities. Of particular interest is the possible benefit that a local interactive community content could provide. This research systematically explores the relationship between several factors: sense of community, community involvement, digital literacy, right-to-information, perceived information needs, and intent to participate in the community.
RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESES
To get specifically at the factors described above, the guiding question of this study is: For community members, what is the relationship between sense of community, digital literacy, right-to-information, and perceived information needs? The exploratory nature of this study means that the researchers chose not to propose a hypothesis, choosing instead to see what information emerged from the analysis of the survey data. The next section will address the methodology used to address this research question.
This study uses a cross-sectional survey of local community residents to answer the research question. The survey was posted online and the responses of 193 residents, gathered through an email list generated by the dominant employer in the community, were analyzed. The survey consisted of 56 items, most of which were answered on a Likert-type scale. Participants were generally long-term community members above 40 years of age.
Our findings show that there is a predictive relationship between both sense of community and right-to-information (IVs) and perceived information needs (DV), while digital literacy (IV) has no predictive effect.
The relationships between our main research question variables are made more complex by other variables introduced to measure current levels of community involvement and attendance at community events.
In particular, right-to-information, perceived information needs and community involvement are all predictive of actual attendance at community events, which was an unanticipated finding of this survey.
Radio, the Internet, and newspapers all proved to be significant antecedent factors for the sense of community, right-to-information, perceived information needs, and community involvement variables. The Internet finding is especially pertinent as it validates the goal of putting community information online. Furthermore, the correlation of sense of community, right-to-information, and community involvement to perceived information needs demonstrates the potential of fostering local community connections by making community information available online.
For more details regarding the study contact
Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (814) 865-2173