A Preliminary Methodology, and a Cautionary Tale, for Determining How Students Seek Research Help Online


This article reports on a pilot study to examine undergraduate students’ help-seeking behavior when undertaking library research in online courses. A novel methodology incorporating elements of ethnographic research resulted in a small, but rich and detailed, collection of qualitative data. The data suggest that the methodology has promise for future, larger studies on students in online learning environments. The article includes a detailed discussion of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, and offers recommendations for modifications that will improve the research design.