Wed Searching Behaviour of Students
In the article “A visit to the information mall: web searching behavior of high school students”, the authors aimed at describing the searching behavior of high school students and recommending changes in the design of the web that may improve the learning experience of students (Fidel et al, 1999). The authors conducted a field research to analyze the web-searching behavior of high school students for the three weekly assignments. The field research was a case study involving activities including: observation in class and at the terminal with students thinking aloud; interviews with various participants including students, the teacher who assigned ...view middle of the document...
Overall, they were satisfied with their searches and results but impatient with slow response. The reasons why the students enjoyed searching the web were because the web had a variety of formats such as pictures and sounds, covered a multitude of subjects, and provided easy access to information. However, the authors had also observed that the students encountered difficulties while searching, by which the authors considered that it implied the need for training to students, teachers and all involved and the need for designing the web to customize user seeking and searching behavior in order to improve the learning experience of students.
In my review, I will mainly focus on the aspects of Methods, Results/Discussion and Paper and its Format.
The method of data collection is thoroughly explained in terms of who and what was studied, how they were selected and how data were collected. Six males and two females of eight students in West Seattle High School were studied, in which five of them were in the twelfth grade and the rest of them were in the eleventh grade. Some were experts in surfing the web, but others just surfed occasionally or even had no experience in surfing. Nonetheless, all of them had very little experience in online information retrieval and had no knowledge about the horticulture area. The web-searching behavior for finishing horticulture assignments of the students was intended to be observed and analyzed in the study. The horticulture teacher assisted the research team in inviting eight students to voluntarily participate in the study as requested by the team members. Data were collected through observing the eight students in class and at the terminal with them thinking aloud and through interviewing these students, the teacher, the librarian and the principal of the school.
In my point of view, one weakness in the data collection methods is that the research team members unintentionally participated in what they were studying. Firstly, the team introduced itself and explained the purpose and nature of the study to the participating students at the first meeting. Secondly, each team member accompanied the student that he or she was observing throughout the project to go to the library, sat beside the student and tape-recorded the narration of the student in the search process. Finally, the team members asked the students several questions at the beginning and at the end of each search session. As a result of Hawthorne effect, Babbie (1998, p.286) states that if the subjects of study realize that they are being studied, it is inevitable that whatever the observer does or does not do will have effect on what is being observed. In this research, the observers might affect the behavior of the students by imposing pressure on them. Since the students had known the purpose of the study at the very start and they were being closely observed while searching, it was difficult to expect them...