Locating information within extended hypermedia

Abstract

New literacies researchers have identified a core set of strategies for locating information, one of which is “reading a Web page to locate information that might be present there” (Leu et al. in: Rush, Eakle, Berger (eds) Secondary school reading and writing: What research reveals for classroom practices, 2007, p. 46). Do middle-school, high school, and undergraduate students (N = 51) differ in effectiveness at locating information within extended hypermedia? Students completed a pretest measure of knowledge about the circulatory system. They then gave verbal answers to 10 researcher-developed questions about the circulatory system, which they answered by searching the environment and thinking aloud about the task. Consistent with large-scale national and international studies, students were only moderately successful at locating information. Successfully locating information was significantly associated with having more prior knowledge, efficient searching, and giving better quality answers to the researcher-posed questions. It was also associated with specific strategies only at the level of individual questions. That is, the “ideal” strategy depended on the question and how the answer was phrased in the text. Implications of the results for teaching students how to search in hypermedia are offered.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Wikipedia was the 12th most-frequently accessed Web site on the entire Internet as of June 8, 2008 according to http://scripts.ranking.com/data/report_domain.aspx. Wikipedia guidelines suggest the “ideal” article is 5,000 words long (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Article_size).

  2. 2.

    Electronic encyclopedias have largely replaced paper encyclopedias, and the electronic Encyclopedia Brittanica and Encarta were ranked #20 and #26, respectively, in educational software on Amazon.com on June 8, 2008 (this was an increase in rank from #26 to #36, respectively, on September 13, 2007). Electronic versions of encyclopedias are much less expensive than paper versions.

  3. 3.

    One-half of textbooks now come bundled with supplementary materials (USPIRG 2005), many popular reference books are now available on searchable CDs (e.g., Chicago Manual of Style, see Roncevic 2006), and children’s books are increasingly being sold with an accompanying CD or DVD (Bookseller 2006).

  4. 4.

    Most manufacturers have switched from paper manuals to CD-ROM/DVD hypermedia for technical documentation (Electronic Document Systems Foundation 2001).

  5. 5.

    These features were identical in the DVD and Web-based versions of Encarta as of Winter, 2007. We verified this by asking a graduate student to re-create the search paths of two of the participants whose searches are described in detail in the text.

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Acknowledgments

This research was partially supported by funding from an AERA/Spencer Pre-Dissertation Fellowship to Jennifer Cromley and funding from the National Science Foundation (REC#0133346) and the University of Maryland’s College of Education and School of Graduate Studies awarded to Roger Azevedo. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2004). We would like to thank Dan Moos for his helpful comments. The authors would like to thank Danielle Fried for assistance with coding video data, Neil Hoffman for assistance with coding answers to the search questions, and the students, their parents, and schools for their participation in the study.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Scoring rubric for quality of answers to each of the 10 questions, mean, minimum, and maximum obtained scores

Qu Complete answer 1 2 3 4 M Min Max
1. Red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma 1/4 2/4 3/4 4/4 2.6 0 4
2. Red blood cells transport oxygen and remove carbon dioxide
White blood cells defend the body against foreign organisms and substances (e.g., form antibodies)
Platelets clot the blood when a vessel is cut
1/4 2/4 3/4 4/4 2.8 0 4
3. Transport oxygen, nutrients, wastes, and hormones, regulate body temperature, defend the body against foreign organisms and substances, and form clots 1–2/7 3–4/7 5–6/7 7/7 2.2 0 4
4. Tricuspid valve—between right atrium (or auricle) and ventricle
Mitral valve—between left atrium (or auricle) and ventricle [also called bicuspid valve
Aortic valve—at entrance to aorta from left ventricle
Pulmonary valve—at entrance to pulmonary artery from right ventricle
Function of all heart valves is to prevent blood from flowing backwards
1–2/4 w/o function 3/4 w/o function 4 w/o function 4 + function 2.3 0 4
5. From superior vena cava and inferior vena cava to right atrium, through tricuspid valve to right ventricle, through pulmonary valve to pulmonary artery, to lungs, back from lungs through pulmonary veins, into left atrium, through mitral valve, into left ventricle, through aortic valve into aorta and out to rest of body <7/14 7–9/14 10–12/14 13–14/14 1.8 0 4
6. Electrical impulse begins in SA node, through atria, to AV node, through bundle of His, through Purkinje fibers. Purpose is to make the heart beat, specifically, to make the atria beat, rest while blood moves down, and then make the ventricles beat 1–2/8 3–4/8 5–6/8 7–8/8 0.8 0 3
7. Electrical—SA & AV nodes, bundle of His, and Purkinje fibers
Mechanical—4 valves
Support—Coronary vessels (arteries & veins), pericardium
<5/10 5–6/10 7–8/10 9–10/10 0.7 0 3
8. From body through superior and inferior vena cava into right side of heart, out to lungs, back to left side of heart, out through aorta, through arteries (all over body simultaneously), capillaries, veins, and back to heart <5/10 5–6/10 7–8/10 9–10/10 1.3 0 4
9. Heart, blood, and blood vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries) 1/5 2/5 3/5 4–5/5 2.0 0 4
10. To transport oxygen, nutrients, wastes, and hormones, regulate body temperature, defend the body against foreign organisms and substances, and form clots 1–2/7 3–4/7 5–6/7 7/7 1.8 0 4

Appendix 2

Results of question-by-question t tests comparing the group who did and did not find the key page

Q# Prior knowledge Time spent searching Total quality of answers
t df p t df p t df p
1 −0.74 49 .46 1.87 8.54 .10 −2.26* 8.91 .05
2 −0.23 49 .82 2.50* 7.44 .04 −2.40* 7.75 .04
3 −1.92 49 .06 3.97* 49 <.01 −17.95* 45 <.01
4 −1.16 49 .25 2.34* 49 .02 −9.37* 22.11 <.01
5 −1.06 49 .29 1.65 49 .11 −5.54* 49 <.01
6 −2.52 49 .01 1.31 49 .20 −7.17* 26.73 <.01
7 −0.71 49 .48 3.26* 49 .00 −5.93* 25.41 <.01
8 −1.52 46 .13 0.83 46 .41 −3.11* 46 <.01
9 0.45 39 .65 1.24 39 .22 −5.16* 32.99 <.01
10 −0.48 36 .63 0.74 34 .46 −4.74* 36 <.01
  1. Note: Positive t values indicate higher scores for the group that found the key page. Degrees of freedom that are not whole numbers reflect adjustment for non-homogeneity of variance between the two groups

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Cromley, J.G., Azevedo, R. Locating information within extended hypermedia. Education Tech Research Dev 57, 287–313 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-008-9106-5

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Keywords

  • Search
  • Hypermedia
  • Science
  • Knowledge