Presentation Title

“It [my research] would take place at 11:50PM”: Constructing a Realistic Simulation to Study Online Information Evaluation for School Projects

Location

PARB 126

Type of Presentation

Panel (1 hour and 15 minutes presentation total for two or more presenters)

Target Audience

Other

Both K-12 and Higher Education

Abstract

When students explore a search results page for a school-related project, what leads them to select a resource? We explore this question in our IMLS-funded research study, Researching Student Information Choices: Identifying and Judging the Credibility of Online Sources. In this session we introduce our novel simulation-based research method. We designed a simulated environment to study students’ online information-seeking behavior and understand their point-of-selection behavior when they determine that a resource potentially meets their research need. Simulated search engine results pages were used to examine students’ information selection decisions for an age-appropriate research prompt. The simulation collected quantitative data and served as the basis for think-aloud protocols that captured students’ cognition in action. This provided us not only with reliable data on what students decided but also rich data on why they made different judgments about the helpfulness, citability, credibility, and container of various online resources. The controlled environment also allowed us to make direct comparisons within and across student groups representing 4th grade through graduate school. The challenges of developing and employing a simulation to study information behavior include the time, effort, and expertise required and the trade-offs between creating a realistic environment and ensuring that the data captured can be meaningfully analyzed and used to address research questions. However, the result of using a simulated environment in combination with standard LIS research methods aids a deeper understanding of how and why students' select the online resources they do during their initial search process.

Presentation Description

When students explore a search results page for a school-related project, what leads them to select a resource? Learning how and why students select and evaluate resources for research projects in real time can be challenging. In this session, we’ll discuss how we developed and deployed simulated search engine results pages to overcome methodological challenges and capture rich data on how students 4th grade through graduate school evaluate online resources.

Session Goals

After attending this session, attendees will:

  • Discover novel research methods to better understand students’ online information-seeking behaviors.

  • Recognize the benefits and limitations of using a simulation for capturing students' point-of-selection behaviors.

  • Consider the various decisions to be made when designing and creating a simulation.
  • Apply some of the techniques discussed to local assessments and instruction.

Keywords

Online Information-Seeking Behavior, Point of Selection Behavior, Information Evaluation, Search Engines, Simulations, Think-Aloud Method, K-12 Students, Higher Education Students

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Feb 22nd, 11:45 AM Feb 22nd, 1:00 PM

“It [my research] would take place at 11:50PM”: Constructing a Realistic Simulation to Study Online Information Evaluation for School Projects

PARB 126

When students explore a search results page for a school-related project, what leads them to select a resource? We explore this question in our IMLS-funded research study, Researching Student Information Choices: Identifying and Judging the Credibility of Online Sources. In this session we introduce our novel simulation-based research method. We designed a simulated environment to study students’ online information-seeking behavior and understand their point-of-selection behavior when they determine that a resource potentially meets their research need. Simulated search engine results pages were used to examine students’ information selection decisions for an age-appropriate research prompt. The simulation collected quantitative data and served as the basis for think-aloud protocols that captured students’ cognition in action. This provided us not only with reliable data on what students decided but also rich data on why they made different judgments about the helpfulness, citability, credibility, and container of various online resources. The controlled environment also allowed us to make direct comparisons within and across student groups representing 4th grade through graduate school. The challenges of developing and employing a simulation to study information behavior include the time, effort, and expertise required and the trade-offs between creating a realistic environment and ensuring that the data captured can be meaningfully analyzed and used to address research questions. However, the result of using a simulated environment in combination with standard LIS research methods aids a deeper understanding of how and why students' select the online resources they do during their initial search process.