Purpose This research aims to produce a “mile-deep” study of the impact of using EIS on a small homogeneous group of undergraduate students during their entire undergraduate education, a period spanning three years. Design/methodology/approach This research uses a constructivist approach, focusing on 19 in-depth, holistic case studies to produce “rich pictures”. Data collection is achieved using interviews, focus groups, student diaries, bibliography analysis and observation. The fieldwork lasted three years in order to investigate changing behaviour over time, and measure impact. Findings These rich pictures reveal a variety of ways in which access to EIS can provide valuable learning opportunities in higher education. This paper focuses on the cross-case analysis of the change in perceptions and use of EIS over a period of three years and the nature of the intervention that impacted upon this perception and use. Research limitations/implications This research indicates that longitudinal studies can demonstrate the impact of resources on individuals. This was a very homogenous group of research participants, it would be very useful to apply this research design to other profiles in order to establish transferability. Practical implications Electronic information services provide students with opportunities to interact one another and with vast quantities of information. Research has indicated that learning and cognitive development are intricately linked to opportunities to process and interact with relevant information and the medium used to deliver this information may well have an impact on these opportunities. Originality/value The length and depth of this investigation is rare in performance measurement research, impact was measured over time and in depth, on an individual basis.