An electronic copy of the proposal is available through UT Box at: https://utexas.box.com/v/nb-dissprop-fa21. The title and abstract are below.
Title: A Longitudinal Study to Understand University Students’ Searching as a Learning Process
Abstract: Learning today is about navigation, discernment, induction, and synthesis of the wide body of information on the Internet, present ubiquitously at every student’s fingertips. Learning, or addressing a gap in one’s knowledge, has been well established as an important motivator behind information-seeking activities. The Search as Learning research community advocates that online search systems should be reconfigured to become educational platforms to foster learning and sensemaking. Modern search systems have yet to adapt to support this function. An important step to foster learning during search is to identify behavioural patterns that distinguish searchers gaining more vs. less knowledge during search. Previous efforts have primarily studied searchers in the short term, typically during a single lab session. Many researchers have expressed their concern over this ephemeral approach, as learning takes place over time, and is not fleeting. We propose an exploratory longitudinal study to analyze the long-term searching behaviour of students enrolled in a university course, over the span of a university semester. Our research aims are to identify if and how students’ searching behaviour changes over time, as they gain new knowledge on a subject; and how do processes like motivation, metacognition, self-regulation, and other individual differences moderate their 'searching as learning' behaviour. Findings from this exploratory longitudinal study will help to build improved information search systems that foster human learning and sensemaking.
Committee: Jacek Gwizdka (chair), Matthew Lease, Soo Young Rieh, and Robert Capra (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)