Multimedia Systems

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 236–248 | Cite as

Multimedia displays for conceptual discovery: information seeking with strand maps

  • Kirsten R. ButcherEmail author
  • Sonal Bhushan
  • Tamara Sumner
Regular Paper


This article explores the use of a multimedia search interface for digital libraries based on strand maps developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As semantic-spatial displays, strand maps provide a visual organization of relevant conceptual information that may promote the use of science content during digital library use. A study was conducted to compare users' cognitive processes during information seeking tasks when using a multimedia strand maps interface, versus the textual search interface currently implemented in the Digital Library for Earth System Education. Quantitative and qualitative data from think-aloud protocols revealed that students were more likely to engage with science content (e.g., analyzing the relevance of science concepts with regard to task needs) during search when using the strand maps interface compared to those using textual searching. In contrast, students using a textual search interface engaged more frequently with surface-level information (e.g., the type of a resource regardless of its science content) during search and retrieval. As a multimedia search interface for digital libraries, strand maps appear to be promising tools to promote conceptual discovery and learning through content-based processes that promote learner engagement with relevant science knowledge.


Information seeking Strand maps Educational digital libraries Science learning Educational technology 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsten R. Butcher
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sonal Bhushan
    • 1
  • Tamara Sumner
    • 2
  1. 1.Digital Library for Earth System Education Program CenterUniversity Corporation for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUS
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUS

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