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Researchers have recognized that students rely on different learning styles and strategies to succeed, and the importance of recognizing different learning styles is well documented (e.g., Cassidy 2004; Vermunt 1994; Bransford et al. 1989; Kolb 1985). The same is true of how students use technological resources; it has become increasingly clear that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all students. While a great deal has been written on these topics, the literature addressing such differences has focused primarily on course content (Fahy and Ally 2005; Lee et al. 2005; Ross and Lukow 2004; Baldwin and Sabry 2003; Brown, Bull, and Pendlebury 1997). There remains a dearth of research about the ancillary aspects of the education experience and about the uses of technologies not directly related to content but which students nonetheless incorporate into their overall learning and communication strategies. In this vein, academic department Web pages are important resources for students in higher education. These sites provide students with contact information for faculty members, sometimes including direct links to faculty members' home and course pages; information about class offerings and frequency; and data about the major, internships, external experiences, job placement, and the like. For some students, the department Web site becomes a support for academic advising and could be considered, in the broadest sense, a source for answers to frequently asked questions.

Although academic department Web pages play an important role in communicating with students, little research has been done to determine what kinds of information current students value on department Web pages. In this study, we examine how students value information commonly placed on department Web pages and suggest that just as in learning, different users have different information needs.

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This article was originally published in Innovate ( as: Hall, T., R. Jensen, and D. McLean. 2008. Designing for the Student: Users' Styles and Department Web Sites. Innovate, 5(1). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.

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