A Tale of Three Cities: Fostering Intrinsic Motivation for Information Seeking in Children of Diverse Cultures

  •  Sherry Crow    
  •  Lisa Kastello    


The purpose of the research was to increase understanding of the experiences in the lives of upper elementary-aged students that foster an intrinsic motivation to seek information, as well as to compare and contrast the experiences of intrinsically motivated students from an individualist culture (Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.), a collectivist culture (Kampala, Uganda) and a culture that is both individualistic and collectivist (Mysore, India). The principal results are that the informants from all three groups had an affinity for play, a tendency toward creativity, and that they enjoyed doing competence-building activities. A point of disparity in the findings was in the information seeking behavior of the collectivist Kampalan students with regard to their penchant for seeking information by asking other people as compared with the two less-collectivist groups. Interest/relevance was the dominant factor in all three groups of students’ favorite information seeking quests. Major conclusions are that social conditions supporting all three needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) that foster intrinsic motivation were evident in the lives of the students, though relatedness and autonomy needs were balanced differently depending on their cultures. Recommendations based on this research for elementary school teachers and librarians are: to allow choice when possible, to provide creative alternatives for students to present information, to be sensitive to the differing relational needs of children, and to be there as a stable influence when immigrant students find circumstances overwhelming. Findings on the information-seeking styles by media types of the three sets of informants are included.

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