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Title: A new integrated model for multitasking during web searching
Authors: Alexopoulou, Peggy (Pagona)
Keywords: Multitasking information behaviour
Web searching
Working memory
Flow
PAT model
Cognitive coordination
Cognitive shifts.
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: © Peggy Alexopoulou
Abstract: Investigating multitasking information behaviour, particularly while using the web, has become an increasingly important research area. People s reliance on the web to seek and find information has encouraged a number of researchers to investigate the characteristics of information seeking behaviour and the web seeking strategies used. The current research set out to explore multitasking information behaviour while using the web in relation to people s personal characteristics, working memory, and flow (a state where people feel in control and immersed in the task). Also investigated were the effects of pre-determined knowledge about search tasks and the artefact characteristics. In addition, the study also investigated cognitive states (interactions between the user and the system) and cognitive coordination shifts (the way people change their actions to search effectively) while multitasking on the web. The research was exploratory using a mixed method approach. Thirty University students participated; 10 psychologists, 10 accountants and 10 mechanical engineers. The data collection tools used were: pre and post questionnaires, pre-interviews, a working memory test, a flow state scale test, audio-visual data, web search logs, think aloud data, observation, and the critical decision method. Based on the working memory test, the participants were divided into two groups, those with high scores and those with lower scores. Similarly, participants were divided into two groups based on their flow state scale tests. All participants searched information on the web for four topics: two for which they had prior knowledge and two more without prior knowledge. The results revealed that working memory capacity affects multitasking information behaviour during web searching. For example, the participants in the high working memory group and high flow group had a significantly greater number of cognitive coordination and state shifts than the low working memory group and low flow group. Further, the perception of task complexity was related to working memory capacity; those with low memory capacity thought task complexity increased towards the end of tasks for which they had no prior knowledge compared to tasks for which they had prior knowledge. The results also showed that all participants, regardless of their working memory capacity and flow level, had the same the first frequent cognitive coordination and cognitive state sequences: from strategy to topic. In respect of disciplinary differences, accountants rated task complexity at the end of the web seeking procedure to be statistically less significant for information tasks with prior knowledge compared to the participants from the other disciplines. Moreover, multitasking information behaviour characteristics such as the number of queries, web search sessions and opened tabs/windows during searches has been affected by the disciplines. The findings of the research enabled an exploratory integrated model to be created, which illustrates the nature of multitasking information behaviour when using the web. One other contribution of this research was to develop new more specific and closely grounded definitions of task complexity and artefact characteristics). This new research may influence the creation of more effective web search systems by placing more emphasis on our understanding of the complex cognitive mechanisms of multitasking information behaviour when using the web.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
Sponsor: Centre for Information Management
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/20320
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Information Science)

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