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Survey of Learners’ Knowledge Structures: Rationales, Methods and Instruments

Peiling Wang, Stephen Bales, Jason Rieger, Yan Zhang

Presented at ASIST 2004 Annual Meeting; "Managing and Enhancing Information: Cultures and Conflicts" (ASIST AM 04), Providence, Rhode Island, November 13 - 18, 2004


How human beings organize knowledge and to what extend individuals' organizational structures overlap are important research questions in cognitive science (Lakoff, 1987) as well as in information science (Ingwersen, 1992). Effective IR principles can be derived from the understanding of human knowledge organizational structures. This project explores a field study design to observe learners’ organization of concepts of a subject domain during a course of learning. The purpose of the study is two-fold: (1) to investigate how learners build and organize concepts learned along the process and (2) to design data collection methods and instruments. The project is carried out in two introductory information science courses as two studies. The ultimate goal is also two-fold: (1) to facilitate learning in introductory courses by adopting metacognitive tools and (2) to advance information retrieval by incorporating effective knowledge structures into IR systems.

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