AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Genre Theory and Adolescent Information Retrieval

Tamara Cameron

(Submission #123)


High school students face a bewildering number of seemingly relevant books, articles and other materials from which to choose in the preparation of a research essay. In school, as in future professional settings, understanding the generic features of communication within one's field of study and endeavor is paramount. Therefore, we may be better off thinking of information searching as a situated rhetorical activity that depends on the interaction between the classroom and school library. One means of examining the intersection of library and classroom is genre. Genre is about function not form, a pragmatic scheme for making certain types of meaning. If genre is to be a useful concept in information retrieval in educational settings, it needs to be substantive—arising out of the typical tasks and assigned resources in a particular course of study. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role genre plays in the process of search and paper construction by identifying and describing the strategies employed by three upper level high school history students as they searched for information to compose a history essay and examining their representation of the ideas and resources found. The findings focused on the connections between the students’ representation of genre and how they search for information through an examination of linguistic data (to support analytical claims about how the text is produced and received) and regularities in particular linguistic features that occur under certain conditions in the discourse data. To date, what has been absent from the research of school library use is how the kinds of knowledge expected from the students, and how the kinds of uses and manipulations that information is subjected to are connected to information access and retrieval.

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