Meditating differences in children's interaction with digital libraries through modeling their tasks

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  • Meditating differences in childrens interaction with digital libraries through modeling their tasks


    Dania Bilal

    School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee

    1345 Circle Park COM 451, Knoxville, TN 37919


    Sonia Sarangthem

    School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee

    1345 Circle Park COM 451, Knoxville, TN 37919


    Describes four graphical preliminary task-based models of ten Arabic-speaking children, ages 6-

    10, based on their interaction with the International Childrens Digital Library (ICDL). Data

    generated from a previous study (Bilal & Bachir, 2007b) were coded and analyzed to generate the

    models. Seven modes of behavior characterized childrens interaction: Start, Recognize, Browse,

    Differentiate, Read, Explore, and Finish. Each mode is associated with moves based on task

    characteristics. The models were constructed using the general model developed by Bilal,

    Sarangthem, & Bachir (2008), which was partially informed by the works of Ellis (1989), Ellis &

    Haugan (1997), Choo, Detlor, & Turnball (2000), and Marchionini (1995). New patterns of

    behavior that are missed in these works were identified (Explore and Read). The models lack a

    Search mode that characterized childrens keyword searching. The ICDL allowed entry of Arabic

    script in the search box, but failed to retrieve Arabic books by keyword. Childrens behavior that

    combined linear and non-linear progression and the core iterative processes that occurred

    between certain modes of behavior and varied by task provide additional perspectives for

    understanding information seeking behavior within the specific context of a small and well

    structured Web space such as the ICDL.


    Many studies have investigated the relationships between a user task and information seeking

  • behavior (Xie, 2007; Jarvelin & Ingwersen, 2004; Jarvelin & Wilson, 2003; Ingwersen & Jarvelin,

    2005; Vakkari, 2003; Bystrom & Jarvelin, 1995; Belkin, Chang, Downs, Saracevic, & Zhao, 1990;

    Saracevic & Kantor, 1988; Belkin, 1980). Researchers have investigated various types of tasks

    including collaborative vs. individual (Hyldegrd, 2009), open vs. closed (Bilal, Sarangthem, &

    Bachir, 2008); transactional vs. informational (Terai, et al. 2008); complex/goal-oriented (Bartlett

    & Neugebauer, 2008); directed vs. general purpose (Thatcher, 2008); factual vs. interpretive vs.

    exploratory (Kim, 2007); known-item vs. subject-oriented (Kim & Allen, 2002); imposed vs. self-

    selected (Gross, 2004); assigned vs. semi-assigned vs. fully self-generated (Bilal, 2002; Bilal,

    2001; Bilal, 2000). Studies have also examined task specificity, monitoring, and interruption

    (Bailey, Adamczyk, Chang, & Chilson, 2006); task manipulation (Vakkari, 2003); and task

    complexity (Bystrom & Jarvelin, 1995; Vakkari, 1999). Recently, Wildemuth & Hughes (2006)

    have raised the issue of the embedded tasks. Despite these prolific works about task influence

    on information behavior, there are insufficient empirical studies that resulted in task-based

    graphical models of childrens information seeking behavior in digital environments. This paper

    describes four preliminary task-based models of Arabic speaking childrens interaction with the

    international Childrens Digital Library (ICDL) and identifies the core iterative processes and linear

    progression children performed on each task. The models provide additional understanding of

    childrens information behavior in digital environments that a general model of such a behavior

    may not provide.


    The overarching research question addressed in this paper was: What task-based empirical

    models can be generated based on Arabic-speaking childrens interaction with the ICDL?


    Due to space limitation, only two bodies of relevant literature are briefly reviewed: 1. Models of

    childrens information seeking behavior, and 2. Childrens use of the ICDL.

    1. Models and childrens information seeking

    There is scarcity of empirical work that modeled childrens information seeking

    behavior, in general, and in using Web-based interfaces (e.g., digital libraries), in

    particular. This section reviews studies that concluded with models of childrens

    information seeking behavior in different Web environments.

  • Using data sets collected of a previous study that investigated Arabic-speaking

    childrens use of the ICDL (Bilal & Bachir, 2007b), Bilal, Sarangthem, & Bachir (2008)

    developed a preliminary, general model of the childrens behavior that consists of 7

    modes of information behavior: Start, Recognize, Browse, Differentiate, Read,

    Explore, and Finish. The model is . partially informed by the work of Ellis (1989), Ellis

    & Haugan (1997), Choo, Detlor, & Turnball (2000), and Marchionini (1995). One

    limitation of this model resides in its lack of a Search mode. Children used Arabic

    script in the ICDL keyword search box, but the ICDL failed to retrieve books due to its

    lack keyword indexing of Arabic books. This deficient design feature of the ICDL

    provided an incomplete representation of the childrens interaction.

    Shenton (2007) developed a graphical model of information seeking failure of young

    users, ages 3-18. The model consists of five dimensions: Source Dimension,

    Knowledge Dimension, Skills Dimension, Social Dimension, and Psychological

    Dimension. Each dimension lists the issues that contributed to information seeking

    failure. Relationships among the dimensions are clearly described. However, the

    model does not show the task as a factor in any of the dimensions.

    The imposed query framework developed by Gross (1997) pointed out the issues in

    queries assigned by teachers in elementary schools. Use of the framework was

    investigated in varied information environments including adult reference desk in

    public libraries where Gross & Saxton (2002) examined the effect of task type on user

    assessment and satisfaction. The framework has demonstrated utility in informing

    practice and guiding professional training in reference services. However, it focuses

    on the imposed query rather than on all types of queries.

    2. Children and the ICDL

    A handful of studies exist about childrens use of the ICDL. In a two-part study, Bilal &

    Bachir (2007a-b) examined the information seeking behavior of ten Arabic-speaking

    children, ages 6-10, in using the ICDL to find Arabic books on four different tasks. The

    study took place at Bibliotheca Alexandrina in late December 2004. In part one, Bilal

    & Bachir (2007a), assessed the cross-cultural usability of the ICDL as an international

    Web interface. In part two, Bilal & Bachir (2007b) investigated the childrens

    information seeking behavior, success, and affective reactions in using the ICDL.

    Children were given four different tasks to perform in the ICDL: one assigned and fact-

    based, one assigned known-title and fact-based, one semi-assigned and research-

  • based, and another fully self-generated. Childrens interaction was captured online

    and their affective reactions were elicited during exit interviews. Childrens

    information seeking behavior was characterized by browsing using a single function;

    that is, looking under Arabic language from the drop-down menu to view the Arabic

    book collection. Although children were able to type Arabic keywords using an Arabic

    keyboard, the ICDL returned zero hits due to lack of indexing of the books metadata.

    The data sets generated from this study were used to develop the task-based models

    described in this paper.

    Massey, Druin, & Weeks (2007) examined the affective reactions of twelve children

    from four different countries to reading and reviewing books in the ICDL. Children

    were selected from the United States, Honduras, New Zealand, and Germany.

    Children were given a book review form to use for answering five questions about

    each book they read. Findings revealed that children preferred books with happy

    endings. Language capabilities were a stronger factor in choosing books than culture

    or nationality as children did not choose books in languages they did not speak. When

    children were unable to read books in different languages, they relied on images and

    colors to understand the story and to express how it made them feel. Therefore, their

    interpretations of book images influenced their emotional classifications of the

    books. The findings provided insights into the role of emotions in childrens book

    selection and reading. They also informed us that visual representations of textual

    information could help overcome language barriers in book selection and reading.

    In an earlier study, Reuter & Druin (2004) investigated the searching and book

    selection behavior of ninety-six first- through fifth-grade children from the suburbs of

    Maryland. Age and gender influenced searching and book selection. Younger children

    preferred simple and more interactive interfaces; whereas older children favored

    more sophisticated interfaces. Issues in system designed were identified and

    recommendations were made for making the ICDL more supporti