Dissertation Information for Melissa Gross
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Imposed queries in the school library media center: A descriptive study
Abstract: Searching for information on the basis of an imposed query is an information seeking behavior that has only recently been isolated. The concept of the imposed query acknowledges the fact that people transact questions for each other and that this process needs to be differentiated from self-generated information seeking, that is, the transaction of a question by the person who generated it. This work replicates and extends a pilot study that documented the existence of the imposed query and measured its frequency of occurrence at a school library media center. The replication is literal in that the same cross-sectional approach undertaken in the pilot was used. Circulation transactions were counted and categorized as imposed or self-generated for the period of one week at the pilot site and at two comparable schools. This study extends the original work by including interviews with the school librarian, teachers, and students at the pilot site. The main findings of this dissertation are that year-to-year there was a drop in the prevalence rate of imposed queries at the pilot site, that a relationship between question type and age/grade level persists there, as does a difference by gender in transaction type. Across the three sites the difference in transaction type by gender did not hold up, but the relationship between question type and age/grade level did. One school was very similar to the pilot in its imposed occurrence rate; the other's imposed occurrence rate was significantly higher. Women were the primary adult users of these libraries. Teachers were the main imposers, but impositions were also made by the school librarian, parents, and the children themselves. It was found that in the school environment the imposed nature of the question is not necessarily explicit. Teachers used a variety of strategies to help students feel ownership of the question. The provision of context to support inquiry was primary to the process. Children were most hindered by limited reading skills, showed a preference for browsing and known items, and had limited ability to critically assess information. Students used a wider variety of sources for imposed queries than they did for self-generated questions and, for the most part, these sources were provided by the teacher.
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