AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Adolescent Metacognitive Knowledge During the Information Search Process

Leanne Bowler

(Submission #4)


Purpose: This poster reports the results of a case study that used naturalistic methods to investigate the metacognitive knowledge of adolescents as they searched for, selected and used information for a school-based, inquiry project on a topic related to the history of western civilization.

Background: The difficulty for users of information systems and services may not lie in finding information but in filtering and integrating it into a cohesive whole. To do this, they must be able to make sense of it, an act that assumes knowledge about one’s own information needs, goals and abilities. This type of self-knowledge is called metacognitive knowledge. When used in information seeking, metacognitive knowledge may help users to solve complex information problems.

Methods: The study was conducted over a four-month period in an English-language CEGEP (an educational institution equivalent to Grade 12) in Montréal, Canada. Ten participants, ranging in age from 16 to 18, each kept a written or audio journal in which they recorded their thoughts, feelings, actions, and self-prompting questions, participated in four interviews, three conducted by telephone and one face-to-face, and completed a visualizing exercise (a timeline of their thoughts, feelings, actions and self-prompting questions). Data was analyzed using the constant comparative method.

Findings: The study identified 13 different attributes of ISP metacognitive knowledge used by adolescents to complete an inquiry-based school assignment. These attributes, along with their sub-categories, form a taxonomy of adolescent metacognitive knowledge during the information search process. With further research and development, the taxonomy may provide a framework for the design of search tools that scaffold metacognitive search behavior and a rubric to be used in the teaching and assessment of metacognitive knowledge during the information search process. The poster will explain each attribute in detail and will provide a visual model of the taxonomy.


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