“It [my research] would take place at 11:50PM”: Constructing a Realistic Simulation to Study Online Information Evaluation for School Projects
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.
22 February 2020
GEORGIA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON INFORMATION LITERACY
- User Research
- Research Methods