Diﬀerences and similarities in information seeking: children and adults as Web users. By Dania Bilal and Joe Kirby in the Information Processing and Management, 38
Human behavior, as it relates to information seeking depends on varied interests, particularly those that differ between children and adults. This is particularly true when it comes to the Internet with all of its vast information resources. However, although children and adults process information differently, there are still some similarities in them when it comes to how they seek out information, especially when it is Web-based.
Statement of Purpose
This study focuses on how seventh-grade science students and graduate students use Yahooligans! and how this relates to their levels of success regarding information-seeking behaviors toward Web search engines and directories.
Review of the Literature
The research examines the effects of the study participants’ cognitive, aﬀective, and physical behaviors while surfing the Internet to find information on a specific fact-ﬁnding task. The research also examines why both children and adults show diﬃculties in cognitive abilities relating to putting together search queries that met the goal of finding what they wanted. It is noted that children and adults search the Web for different reasons. Information seeking motives between these two groups depend on different preferences, age, search criteria, learning styles and what search engines are used.
The research analyzed different aspects of Web-search-related activities of both children and adults, “including searching moves, browsing moves, backtracking moves, looping moves, screen scrolling, target location and deviation moves, and the time they took to complete the task” (p. 1). This study also examined the seventh-grade children’s and graduate students’ cognitive behavior (their thoughts), aﬀective behavior (their feelings), and physical behavior (their actions) while using the Internet search engine and directory, Yahooligans!
It is interesting to note that the researchers state that age is independent of a user’s ability to perform the most effective searches and other factors relating to information-seeking are of significance as well, such as the individual, the task at hand, the search engine used and search outcomes.
The author thoroughly explains how results were obtained from the study, which reported factors for use in making improvements to the design of Yahooligans! In addition, a framework to improve user experiences on this site was recommended.
Results of the study reported that both the seventh-graders’ and the graduate students’ information-seeking behaviors led them to successful searching for the answer to a fact-finding task using Yahooligans! Moreover, it is noted that the graduate students were more successful with this exercise, although they still did some of the same things the seventh-graders did in the area of cognitive ability breakdowns, in the process. This suggests the need for improvements to the site.
The author further explains the information-seeking behavior process for both the children and the adults and points out it involves variables related to communication and information processing ability. Furthermore, it is stated that additional research is necessary to understand the ins and outs of children’s and adults’ information seeking behaviors on the Internet.