Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/14961
Our research aims at understanding children’s information search and their use of information search tools during educational pursuits. We conducted an observation study with 50 New Zealand school children between the ages of 9 and 13 years old. In particular, we studied the way that children constructed search queries and interacted with the Google search engine when undertaking a range of educationally appropriate inquiry tasks. As a result of this in situ study, we identified typical query-creation and query-reformulation strategies that children use. The children worked through 250 tasks, and created a total of 550 search queries. 64.4% of the successful queries made were natural language queries compared to only 35.6% keyword queries. Only three children used the related searches feature of the search engine, while 46 children used query suggestions. We gained insights into the information search strategies children use during their educational pursuits. We observed a range of issues that children encountered when interacting with a search engine to create searches as well as to triage and explore information in the search engine results page lists. We found that search tasks posed as questions were more likely to result in query constructions based on natural language questions, while tasks posed as instructions were more likely to result in query constructions using natural language sentences or keywords. Our findings have implications for both educators and search engine designers.
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© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021