Nowadays, the Internet represents a ubiquitous source of information and communication. Its central role in everyday life is reflected in the curricula of modern schools. Already in early grades, children are encouraged to search for information on-line. However, the way in which they interact with state-of-the-art search interfaces and how they explore and interpret the presented information, differs greatly from adult user behaviour. Our work describes a qualitative user study in which the Web search behaviour of Dutch elementary school children was observed and classified into roles motivated by prior research in cognitive science. Building on the findings of this survey, we propose an automatic method of identifying struggling searchers in order to enable teaching personnel to provide appropriate and targeted guidance where needed.
This article was accepted for publication at IIiX 2012.