Core Competencies


Special Project



Professor Eino Sierpe, Ph.D.
Catalog Description
How people acquire, store, and use information they receive from their environment. Topics include behavioral, cognitive, and affective aspects of information-seeking. Applications to information systems and user instruction.
Learning Goals/Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students will to able to:

  • Understand and articulate what Information seeking behavior is
  • Appreciate the importance and significance of a thorough understanding of Information seeking behavior in the provision of information services
  • Understand the extent to which social pressures motivate, enable, and control information seeking behavior
  • Understand the limitations of existing conceptualizations in information seeking behavior theories
  • Understand the different methodologies developed for Information seeking behavior research
  • Access current research literature in the field; and,
  • Design studies for the evaluation of new and existing systems models and theories of information seeking

Back to the top

Students will also be able to:

  • Evaluate information systems, tools, and instructional materials with regard to observed user behavior
  • Identify problems that arise in matching user behavior and information systems
  • Articulate a critical perspective on existing models of information seeking

Highlights/Samples of Coursework:

  • Construct a classified, annotated bibliography on an aspect of information behavior
  • Conduct three types of observations of information behavior: individuals, self, specific populations
  • Discuss the relevance/importance of understanding information behavior in the context of providing information service
  • Design a plan to incorporate information behavior into library service
  • Integrate the various information behavior observations with a literature review to support observations and conclusions from the observations

Back to the top

This course explored various theories addressing how people obtain information and the factors that can influence normal information seeking behavior. An emphasis was placed on how these theories related to electronic information systems and their implementation and design. Coursework included the evaluation of four travel related web sites (PDF) for user satisfaction. During the analysis, I gained insight to characteristics that well-built web sites share and pitfalls that should be avoided during construction. The term paper (PDF) on the evaluation of Gary Marchionini’s book, Information Seeking in Electronic Environments, during a time of extreme stress allowed me to critically analyze an established theory while highlighting advanced electronic information systems that have progressed since the theory’s publication. Lastly, the course addressed the social contexts which can control or manipulate information seeking by reviewing Noam Chomsky’s propaganda model as explained in Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick’s documentary film, Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. The group’s examination of two case studies and reported findings (PDF) in relation to Chomsky’s theories on information seeking controls and information seeking behavior models. Additionally, an individual report (PDF) highlighted theories and points that were not covered during group discussion in support of Chomsky’s propaganda model.

Back to the top