Middle-school students' online information problem solving behaviors on the information retrieval interface
With the near-overload of online information, it is necessary to equip our students with the skills necessary to deal with Information Problem Solving (IPS). This study also intended to help students develop major IPS strategies with the assistance of an instructor's scaffolding in a designed IPS course as well as on an Online Information Management (OIM) interface. Explicit strategies that students employed to organize information for final projects were identified and hierarchically leveled based on the cognitive complexity they required. Results from a correlation analysis showed a significantly positive relationship among students' project scores, IPS strategies (e.g. organizing information in a logical way), and explicit strategies (e.g. search terms), but no significant relationship involving implicit strategies. Further examinations showed the students with higher project scores had advanced IPS and implicit strategies, while those with intermediate or lower scores likely over- or under-estimated their utilisation of implicit strategies. That is, self-efficacy surveys can be discriminative instruments if students have good self-monitoring abilities. Another feature of the students with high proficiency on IPS was the use of full sentences when using search engines, which implied less demands for the exactitude in search term selection due to the advances of search engines.
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