Are Online Catalogs for Children Giving Them What They Need? Children's Cognitive Development and Information Seeking and Their Impact on Design
Description: Research shows children in an online environment often search by browsing, which relies heavily on recognition and content knowledge, so catalog systems for children must use effective symbols or pictorial representations, which correspond with children's own cognitive schema and level of recognition knowledge. This study was designed to look at the success of young children (ages 5 to 8) in searching 3 online public library catalogs designed for them, and it focused specifically on the pictorial representations and text descriptors used in the systems' browsing hierarchy. The research sought answer whether young children (ages 5 to 8) are really poor searchers because of cognitive development and lack of technology skills or if system design is the major reason for poor search results; i.e., Do current children's online catalog designs function in a manner that is compatible with information seeking by children? Although these results can not be generalized, this study indicates that there was a disconnect between the cognitive abilities of young users and catalog design. The study looked at search success on the 3 catalogs in relation to the catalog characteristics and individual user characteristics and makes 3 significant contributions to the field of library and information science. The first contribution is the modification of an existing model posed by Cooper and O'Connor and modified by Abbas (2002). The second significant contribution is the proposal of a new model, Creel's second best choice (SBC) model, that addresses the cognitive gap and design flaws that impact the choices participants made. The third significant contribution is that this study addresses and fills a gap in the literature.
Date: August 2007
Creator: Creel, Stacy