TiHS Episode 16: Nadia Caidi – understanding the information seeking practices of newcomers

Technology in Human Services Episode 16 - Nadia Caidi

It’s useful to understand how your clients look for, find, assess and act on information. In this interview, U of T Professor Nadia Caidi provides an overview of newcomer information seeking behaviour and practice. I interviewed Professor Caidi in 2018 for Findhelp’s online course Settlement Information and Referral Online Training Program.

That discussion is relevant today more than ever. As the sector has shifted to working remotely, understanding the information seeking behaviour and practices of newcomers is essential to know where and how to reach them. Building trust is an important component of that. Technology is increasingly playing a role to help you do that.

Your inherent capacity and assets as Settlement Workers can help you build trust with potential and existing clients. Professor Caidi outlines how Settlement Workers can position themselves as trusted resources.

People will often act on information or advice based on relationships they have, not necessarily the quality of information provided. If you trust someone, their opinion will weigh more than someone else, even if that other person is more of an expert in the area you’re asking about.

This is is key insight for Settlement Workers.

It highlights the importance of becoming a trusted, “heavy” source of information for your clients. Ultimately, your credibility will come from how helpful you’re perceived to be and how usable the information you provide is.

Professor Caidi outlines how important it is to provide newcomers with a sense of the local information and service landscape. She also discusses the role of Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) in migration and settlement, and how the immigrant and refugee-serving sector can harness and shift how it works using technology.

If you’re are interested in this research area and are not familiar with Professor Caidi’s work, you should be. From 2008, Information Practices of Immigrants to Canada – A Review of the Literature (PDF). It’s 66 pages of awesome insight, taking information studies/science analysis and overlaying it with the migration and settlement process.

So useful.

From the Exec Summary:

“Despite the vast array of resources and services available to them, there is little research that examines the extent to which immigrants are able to adequately access and make use of government, settlement, and ethno-cultural information and services available to them. Relatively little research documents the ways in which newcomers and longer-established immigrants locate and access content in forms that are understandable and usable to them.

The purpose of this study is to examine the information needs, sources, and barriers to accessing information experienced by those who immigrate to Canada. In particular, we examine how both information needs and strategies for finding information change during the settlement process. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we synthesize and critically review a wide range of studies in the areas of Information Studies, Communications, Sociology, Social Work, Immigration and Settlement studies. We examine academic, community based, and “grey” literature.”

Read it. It’s your foundation to what comes next.

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