Information Seeking in Context: Teachers' Content Selection during Lesson Planning Using the Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive of Holocaust Survivor Testimony
Lawley, Kathryn Newton
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This study explored the information seeking task of content selection. An integrative conceptual framework used existing models to examine the context and process of information seeking, evaluation, and selection. The conceptual framework incorporated three main elements of the information seeking process: * The information need context, * The information search process, * Relevance criteria. Among teachers' many duties are the creation, implementation, and revision of lesson plans. A subtask of lesson planning is content selection, which occurs when teachers seek outside content, such as readings or audio recordings, to incorporate into lesson plans. Content selection is seen here as a work-task-embedded information seeking process. A qualitative study was implemented within the setting of a week-long professional development workshop, during which eight teachers used a custom software product that combined a lesson-planning module with an information retrieval (IR) system. The IR system provided access to a subset of the Shoah Foundation's Visual History Archive. Data types included interviews, fly-on-the-wall transcripts, transaction logs, relevance judgments, and lesson plans. Analysis combined inductive and deductive techniques, including start codes, constant comparison, emergent themes, and matrix analysis. Findings depict associations among each component of the framework. 1. The information need context consists of five layers (Environment, Role, Person, Task, Information Source), each of which influences information search and relevance. 2. The ISP includes two cognitive-behavioral facets: Conceptualizing and Actualizing. 3. Relevance criteria are the situationally-driven embodiment of contextual elements that apply to information seeking. These findings have theoretical and practical implications for information studies and education. For information studies, this study contributes to understanding of the ISP as contextual, cognitive, and interactive. Information need, while unobservable in its native form, can be depicted in enough detail to supply meaningful requirements for the design of information systems and processes. Content selection is a form of exploratory search, and this study's implications suggest that the "traditional" reference interview should be used as an interaction model during exploratory search. For education, this study extends the discourse about consequences of standards-based education for teacher practice and contributes to models of teacher planning as an iterative, cognitive process.