Differences and similarities in information seeking: children and adults as Web users

Dania Bilal, Joe Kirby
2002 Information Processing & Management  
This study examined the success and information seeking behaviors of seventh-grade science students and graduate students in information science in using Yahooligans! Web search engine/directory. It investigated these users' cognitive, affective, and physical behaviors as they sought the answer for a factfinding task. It analyzed and compared the overall patterns of children's and graduate students' Web activities, including searching moves, browsing moves, backtracking moves, looping moves,
more » ... een scrolling, target location and deviation moves, and the time they took to complete the task. The authors applied Bilal's Web Traversal Measure to quantify these users' effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of moves they made. Results were based on 14 children's Web sessions and nine graduate students' sessions. Both groups' Web activities were captured online using Lotus ScreenCam, a software package that records and replays online activities in Web browsers. Children's affective states were captured via exit interviews. Graduate students' affective states were extracted from the journal writings they kept during the traversal process. The study findings reveal that 89% of the graduate students found the correct answer to the search task as opposed to 50% of the children. Based on the Measure, graduate students' weighted effectiveness, efficiency, and quality of the Web moves they made were much higher than those of the children. Regardless of success and weighted scores, however, similarities and differences in information seeking were found between the two groups. Yahooligans! poor structure of keyword searching was a major factor that contributed to the "breakdowns" children and graduate students experienced. Unlike children, graduate students were able to recover from "breakdowns" quickly and effectively. Three main factors influenced these users' performance: ability to recover from "breakdowns", navigational style, and focus on task. Children and graduate students made recommendations for improving Yahooligans! interface design. Implications for Web user training and system design improvements are made.
doi:10.1016/s0306-4573(01)00057-7 fatcat:bjnhp6q75vdkzhikoameu3on7q