, SCILS 201
Office hours: Tuesdays , Thursdays , but make an appointment during these
times SCILS 305
Course Objectives and Organization
In this course, students learn,
read original research, discuss and write about the practice, study and theory
of human information behavior. Human information behavior is the study of the
interactions between people, the various forms of data, information, knowledge
and wisdom that fall under the rubric of "information" and the situations
(contexts) in which they interact. This course provides students an
introduction to the human aspects of the world of library and information
services, feedback on how to interact with the literature in our field, a
greater awareness of the human information behavior around us and an opportunity
to work with peers to analyze and present additional relevant research.
The structure of the course is a medium-sized
seminar with lectures, break-out groups, general discussion, student
presentations, in-class exercises and occasional guest lectures.
Readings listed at each week will be discussed during the first
half of the next week; there will be a lecture introducing the topics/readings
for each week in the second half of the previous week. This student-centered
learning approach relies upon the student's role in preparing for class with
questions and issues for discussion. The instructor's role is to guide the
student through the literature, integrate the topics raised in class, and
provide feedback to the students on their performance on learning objectives.
The course will proceed as follows:
Orientation to human information behavior, library and
information science and the relationship between the two
Instruction, practice and reflection on reading about,
discussing and writing about information behavior.
Recognition of the differences between professional and
scholarly literature. When and how to use each.
Developing increasing awareness for information behavior
in all aspects of life.
Introduction to techniques for recording, analyzing and
conceptualizing information behavior in professional settings.
Survey of specific research findings about information
behavior in a variety of different contexts.
Introduction to specialized practices to facilitate the
pursuit of a variety of information behaviors as an information professional.
The course packet contains
assigned readings for class preparation. Some additional readings and materials
are available on web pages. University Copy (telephone 732-220-1211) will sell
packets directly to the class on the first or second day of the class meeting.
They accept credit cards, checks and cash.
Additional readings required to complete the group
presentation and the user group paper are available from Alexander Library, next
door to the SCILS building. Inquire at the library information desk about tours
and classes in how to use the electronic and print materials. Term paper
instruction will not be covered in this class. The Kreeger Learning Resource Center next to the
Parking Deck and BrowerCommons may provide or refer you to additional resources. Finally,
citation format should follow APA Style (5th Edition). A variety of online style
manuals are available through the Rutgers Library Web Site including http://www.apastyle.org/elecref.html
for citing electronic sources.
The instructor assesses student performance through
assignments that enable students to engage in the course in a scholarly way, to
demonstrate understanding of key ideas and their interrelationships, and to
actively participate in the learning process. In order for this form of
instruction to be successful, all students must complete the assigned readings
and prepare questions and notes before each class meeting. Please note the
following grading policies: Late assignments will earn a 0/Not pass. Points
will be deducted if assignments are incomplete, include spelling errors, poor
grammar, lack of organization, or incorrect citation and reference format.
Please consult with the instructor prior to the due date if there are
This course requires keeping a journal of brief writing assignments each week
on the assigned readings that will be evaluated twice during the semester. There
is also a group presentation, a user group paper and brief individual
presentation. Each writing assignment must include:
date of assignment
Journal consists of a 1-3 page essay each week. The essay must include
one APA-style citation and reference list of each of the week's readings. You
may adopt an informal or academic style of writing, but the journal must
demonstrate your engagement with the topics and your evolving understanding of
human information behavior. The journal can include informal musings, factual
questions you may have, recording of classroom exercises, responses to
classroom experiences, planning ideas for term paper and group project,
reflections on your own information behavior. Ideas for journal writing are
included with each assignment but these topics are optional. You may compose
your journal in any way that is most comfortable for you, but must be somewhat
legible for evaluation feedback. You must turn in your journal on the
26 (Week 6), and
22 (Week 13).
to or after these dates, students can meet with the instructor or teaching
assistant informally to review the journal to facilitate learning and develop
ideas for meaningful reflection and preparation for writing the user group
paper. Students may omit journal entries for the readings of the week they
are giving a group presentation.
User Group Paper to select an identifiable group, apply models, principles
and concepts from the course, analyze their information behavior and draw
conclusions for professional practice. Choose a group for which a body of
published research is available. There is no restriction about two students
who wish to pursue a similar topic but they must work independently. Students
have written on many groups, including, for instance the following:
elders/seniors, doctors, high school students, genealogists, journalists.
Students who do well on the user group paper spend
a few hours finding several refereed research papers on potential topics even
before they settle on a topic. Students typically start by looking up references
from class assignments, bibliographic databases and indexes such as Library Literature and Library and Information Science
Abstracts (LISA) available via Rutgers University Libraries (RUL), browsing
refereed journals such as JASIST and
Library Quarterly and checking for
survey articles in the Annual Review of
Information Science and Technology (ARIST) in Alexander reference. You
should not expect to be able to complete the assignment without consulting print
sources, even though many materials are available electronically.
You may also use scholarly monographs with
permission of the instructor but most students papers draw upon articles
recently published in refereed journals. Depending on your topic, you may need
to search for articles in refereed research journals in from other disciplines.
You can check if a journal is refereed by using http://www.ulrichsweb.com
(available through RU Libraries' remote access services). When using Ulrich's,
note that "reviews" refer to book or software reviews, not "peer-reviewed."
Please consult with Alexander reference for additional ideas and resources.
Myoung Wilson's Research guide on http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/rr_gateway/research_guides/lib_info/selected.shtml
The following milestone assignments will help you
prepare your paper. However, students should not halt their work during the week
that the milestone assignments are being graded.
19 (Week 5): Please submit 1-3 references concerning your topic, and a
short statement about the nature of your topic.
5 (Week 7): Please submit a tentative title for your paper along with a
draft of your reference list containing at least 10 references. You should
cite between 10 and 20 reference sources in your paper so it's better to
find more than the minimum number at the beginning.
8 (Week 11): Please submit your title, current reference list, abstract,
and a working outline for your paper.
29 (Week 14): The user group paper is due and we will begin the brief
B. User group paper presentation: Each
student will give a very brief (5 minutes max) individual presentation
highlighting 3 points from their user group paper. You may use one transparency
or one screen shot maximum.
Presentations for students to work in groups to develop, organize and
present additional refereed and professional publications on the week's topic.
During the third class meeting, you will form small groups with other class
members and choose one of the listed class topics. On the week assigned, the
presenting group will submit electronic and print copy of the following: These
will be posted to the class web page.
outline (1-page) of the entire presentation
list of references to the literature that the group used for the
presentation and any additional literature that may have been consulted but
not included (please list the latter separately).
of each group member
In addition, individuals are encouraged to reflect
upon their experiences and contribution to the group presentation in their
journal. Presentations should last no more than 30 minutes (a grade will be
taken off for going over-time), be lively and include some interaction with the
audience. Groups can initiate discussions, present panels, conduct skits or lead
class exercises. Presentations may include visual aids (posters, overhead
transparencies, graphics, electronic presentations) to display citations, brief
outlines, figures or charts. Presentations MUST address the following
are the most cited authors on this topic?
is the best journal, report or conference to find more on this topic?
are the current sub-topics of interest?
did the members of the group learn about the topic from looking at this
User Group Paper submitted
April 29, preparation assignments and presentation
Group Presentation submitted
on assigned week
Process Journal submitted February 26 and April 22
Behavior vis-a-vis information as
it bears on problems in library and information services and forms a theoretical
and professional base for such services. Diverse contexts of information
behavior; processes of information seeking, searching, using, and valuing.
Assessment of studies of human information behavior in terms of relevance to
library and information services. Pre- and/or CO-requisites: None
Office Location: 305
SCILS Office Hours: Tuesdays: ,
appointments with Pat Appelbaum, firstname.lastname@example.org) Tel: 732-932-7500
ext.8271 (best during office hours) Fax: 732-932-2644 (contact me first -
non-approved faxes will not be graded) email: email@example.com
WEEKLY JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS
INFORMATION BEHAVIOR OVERVIEW AND ANALYSIS
Jan 22 Week 1
INTRODUCTION TO THE COURSE. The concept of information,
the relationships between information and human behavior, and the notion
of human information behavior.
Wilson examines how people
evaluate information using cognitive tools. Meltzoff provides an overview
of how to evaluate social science research that we can apply to the
articles we read for class.
Wilson, P. (1983). Second-hand knowledge: An inquiry into cognitive
pp.vii-viii, 13-37, 107-112, 120.
Meltzoff, J. (1998). Critical thinking about Research.
DC: American Psychological
Association. pp. 3-12.
Jan 29 Week 2
PERSPECTIVES ON INFORMATION BEHAVIOR: This topic
orients you to a range of approaches to the study of human information
behavior including cognitive, situational and social constructivist.
Julien provides a succinct overview of the nature of the literature in
this field. Consider comparing Julien & Duggan to Wilson's studies of
the field. Wilson focuses on scope to help us identify central concepts of
Wilson, T. (1994). Information needs and uses: Fifty years of progress?
In B.C. Vickery (Ed.), Fifty years of information progress: a Journal
of Documentation review (pp. 15-51). London, ASLIB.
Julien, H. & Duggan, L. (2000). A Longitudinal analysis of the
information needs and uses literature. Library and Information
Science Research, 22, 291-309. (You may wish to refer to Julien's
earlier study available in the library: Julien, H. (1996). Library
and Information Science Research, 18, 53-65.
JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: Record your appraisal of these
articles, your personal reflections on the class so far and any questions
you might have. New experiences provide an excellent opportunity to record
behavioral observations of "the strange" that may later become "the
familiar." Discuss what is difficult or easy about using these readings to
introduce you to the field. For advanced readers, compare Wilson's study
Feb5 Week 3
BEHAVIOR: WORKING FROM PRACTICE TO THEORY AND FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE:
These seminal works in human information behavior introduce two approaches
to understanding human information behavior. Taylor's classic article
develops a model of information services as a series of
question-negotiation filters. Belkin starts with cognitive theory to
describe a model of information transfer that was implemented into
software for practical information retrieval. Pay particular attention to
Taylor, R. S. (1968). Question negotiation and information seeking in
libraries. College & Research Libraries, 28, 178-194.
Belkin, N.J. (1980). Anomalous states of knowledge as a basis for
information retrieval. Canadian Journal of Information Science,,
JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: Reflect on the relevance and
implications of Taylor's
practice-based theory on information services today. What are some
anomalous states of knowledge that you are experiencing? Describe how you
typically go about information-seeking in these cases. How does your need
arise? When is it satisfied? What does it mean to understand information
behavior from a cognitive viewpoint?
Feb 12 Week 4
METAPHORS FOR UNDERSTANDING INFORMATION BEHAVIOR:
"SENSE-MAKING" AND "BERRY-PICKING" Dervin proposes sense-making as a set
of methods for understanding how people utilize information. Sense-making
views information use as a constructive process of bridging a "gap" or
discontinuity between perceived reality and the judgment of that reality.
The construction process develops through an interactive communication
process and results in an interpretation of perceived reality that helps
people move to another step in understanding. Marcia Bates uses the
metaphor of "berry-picking" to model the actual information search
processes people use.
Dervin, B., & Nilan, M. (1986). Information needs and uses. In M. E.
Williams (Ed.), Annual Review of Information Science and Technology
(ARIST) (Vol. 21, pp. 3-33): Knowledge Industry Publs.
Bates, M. J. (1989). The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques
for online search interface. Online Review13, 407-424.
JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: How does Dervin's theory-based
model compare with Bates'? Consider some of the anomolous states of
knowledge you have experienced or "strange" behavior recorded in the first
few weeks. What kind of sense-making or berry-picking behaviors have
changed those initial understandings? Why do you think that these scholars
have such different views of human information behavior? What are their
orientations and ways of thinking?
Kuhlthau, C.C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking
from the user's perspective. Journal of the American Society for
Information Science, 42, 361-371.
Tuominen, D. & Savolainen, R. (1999). A social constructionist
approach to the study of information use as discursive action. In P.
Vakkari, R. Savolainen, & B. Dervin (Eds.), Information seeking
in context (pp. 81-96).London, Taylor-Graham.
Note: Submit 1-3 references and a short statement
about the nature of your topic for your user group paper. JOURNAL
WRITING IDEAS: Keep notes on these readings to add to your journal when it
is returned this week. Create a chart of Kuhlthau's different studies and
their data, methods, and major findings. Review the critical reading
selection and consider what kinds of questions and methods you'd like to
learn more about. Which of the various theories describe information
behaviors you've observed thus far? Chart the proximity of each theory to
the practices they purport to explain.
INFORMATION BEHAVIOR CONTEXTS
Feb 26 Week 6
INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH ON
INFORMATION SEEKING IN CONTEXT. This session will provide an overview
of the key factors established in the research that shape/influence
information behavior. The Melzoff selection discusses research questions,
hypotheses, strategies and variables. The NTIA report provides data on the
gap between Internet haves and have-nots that we've come to know as the
K.E., Fidel, R. & Bruce, H. (2001) Conceptual frameworks in
information behavior. ARIST, v. 35: 43-78.
Note: Hand in Journal this week. JOURNAL
WRITING IDEAS: Try to interpret parts of the digital divide report using
the criteria from the critical thinking chapters. This week, undertake
some discreet observations of people encountering a range of information
services and systems. See if you can identify some of the factors that
shape their interaction or patterns of use. Also, bring to class a list of
5-10 information systems you encounter in the course of your day, week or
month. For each information system, list at least two information
behaviors you associate with that system. Keep in mind that a system in
this context is not just an electronic database or printed catalog.
Mar 4 Week 7
INFORMATION BEHAVIOR IN
PERSONAL AND SOCIAL CONTEXTS: This week's readings explore the
relationship between information behavior and the social resources
accessible by battered women and prisoners serving time. These readings
challenge us to consider ways to look beyond our own circumstances in
order to meet diverse information needs.
Harris, R.M. & Dewdney, P. (1994). Barriers to information. How
formal help systems fail battered women.
Greenwood. Chapters 4 &
8: pp. 47-60, 121-140
Chatman, E. A. (1991). A Theory of Life in the Round. Journal of the
American Society for Information Science, 50, 207-217.
Note: Submit tentative title and draft of reference
list containing at least 10 references for your user group paper. Group 1 Presentation JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: Reflecting on the list
you created last week, where do you see parallels between your own
personal and social information behavior and the behavior described in
these articles? What do you find most interesting about these conceptions
of information behavior? How does an understanding of the information
needs of people in everday situations shape the work of an Information
Mar 11 Week 8
INFORMATION BEHAVIOR IN
EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: The readings for this week look at very
different behaviors. Brown et al review work about the use (or nonuse) of
traditional classroom skills in real-world settings. Covi's study describe
scholarly communication behavior in higher education research disciplines.
Brown, J. S., Collins, A. & Duguid, P. (1989, Jan/Feb). Situated
Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher,
Covi, L. M. (1999). Material mastery: Situating digital library use in
university research practices. Information Processing &
Management, 35, 293-316.
Group 2 Presentation JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: Consider
how the findings from these studies explain information behavior in the
classroom or school library. How do the researchers described in the
Material Mastery article resemble the dieters in the Situated Cognition
piece? What distinguishes the problem-solving skills dieters in the
Situated Cognition piece from children learning in school? With respect to
this Library and Information Science masters program, what is the "ideal"
human information behavior for successful learning? In reality, how do
students use information? In your reading, please be able to address
differences between the context of learning and information behavior in a
Mar 26 Week 9
INFORMATION BEHAVIOR IN ORGANIZATIONS AND WORKING
ENVIRONMENTS: One aspect of an "information society" is the economy's
dependence upon expertise and intellectual capital for competitive
advantage. Kuhlthau provides a case study of the development of expertise
and experience and relates it to her information seeking process
framework. Davenport's case
depicts strategies used in a large accounting firm to manage their
Kuhlthau, C. C. (1999). The role of experience in the information search
process of an early career information worker: Perceptions of
uncertainty, complexity, construction, and sources. Journal of the
American Society for Information Science, 50, 399-412.
Davenport, T. H. (1997).
Knowledge Management at Ernst & Young. Retrieved 5 May 2002 from
Group 3 Presentation Midcourse Evaluation
JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: How does organization of information relate to
uncertainty and other individual emotions? How would you differentiate
knowledge managers and information service providers in organizations?
This week consider a case concerning yourself or someone you know working
in an organization. Describe how that person interacts with their
experience, expertise and the management of knowledge during a typical day
Apr 1 Week 10
AND HEALTH INFORMATION BEHAVIOR: These two selections provide two
contrasts. Pettigrew explores how people interact with information in a
clinical setting (think about the conversations that take place in the
waiting room versus the conversations with doctor or nurse practitioners).
Todd examines formal drug-education programs and the gaps between learning
in the classroom and interpersonal experience.
Pettigrew, K. E. (1999). Waiting for chiropody: contextual results from
an ethnographic study of the information behaviour among attendees at
community clinics. Information Processing and Management, 35,
Todd, R. J. (1999). Utilization of heroin information by adolescent
A cognitive analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information
Science, 50, 10-23.
Group 4 Presentation JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: How has
the availability of medical and health information in the media and on the
web influenced your own information behavior? What are some special issues
that differentiate the use of health information from other types of
information? What are some cultural differences in assessing the authority
of medical information.
Apr 8 Week 11
LEGAL AND GOVERNMENT
INFORMATION BEHAVIOR: This week we explore a seeming irony between
information about rules for the benefit of society, namely the law, and
the unique aspects of how people interact with this information. Kuhlthau
and Tama find that tailor-ability and value-added interpretation are
critical information needs in a law firm. Dilevko explores the information
behavior on both sides of the reference desk and the unique problems of
government and legal repositories.
Kuhlthau, C. C. & Tama, S. L. (2001). Information search process of
lawyers: A call for 'just for me' information services. Journal of
Documentation, 57, 1, 25-43. [Available via RUL through IRIS]
Dilevko, J. (2000). "My mother can't quite understand why I decided to
go to library school:" What patrons say about library staff when asking
government documents reference questions at depository libraries.
Journal of Government Information, 27, 299-323.
Note: Submit title,
current reference list, abstract and working outline of your
paper. Group 5 Presentation
JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: This week, visit a government repository
(Alexander Library has one) or law library. Briefly interview a reference
librarian and consult reference documentation to determine answers to the
following. What is the difference between what is in this collection and
what is available online? What kinds of questions are easier and what kind
of questions are harder to answer? What differentiates the ways lay people
use the collection versus experts in the field?
& LETTERS (HUMANITIES) INFORMATION BEHAVIOR: These two studies
examine two aspects of humanities information behavior in universities. de
Tiratel explores differences between humanists and social scientists in
terms of how they use materials. Case revisits a previous study about
historians and how they interact with information. Humanities scholars are
very interested in "texts." Consider how texts and information differ for
this user group.
de Tiratel, S. R. (2000). Accessing information use by humanists and
social scientists: A study at the Universidad de Buenos Aires,
Argentina. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 26, 346-354.
Case, D. O. (1990). Conceptual organization and retrieval of text by
historians: The role of memory an metaphor. Journal of the American
Society for Information Science, 42, 672-689.
Group 6 Presentation JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS:
Consider what distinguishes the interactions of humanists, social
scientists and historians from other types of researchers or knowledge
workers. During the course of the week, consider the typical kinds of
encounters you have with visual art or music other than popular
(symphonic, jazz, concert, cabaret, etc.). How would you categorize these
sources? What authoritative sources are available to you?
Apr 22 Week 13
& TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION BEHAVIOR: Anderson et al tests the
hypothesis that aerospace scientists and engineers use the principle of
least effort and perceived relevance to guide their human information
behavior. Brown compares scientists in different disciplines and found a
mismatch between preference for print and desire to use electronic
materials. How does her explanation resolve her dilemma? How would her
research support or undermine Anderson et al's work?
Anderson, C., Glassman, M., McAfee, R., & Pinelli, T. (2001). An
investigation of factors affecting how engineers and scientists seek
information. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management,
Brown, C.M. (1999). Information seeking behavior of scientists in the
electronic information age: Astronomers, chemists, mathematicians, and
physicists. Journal of the American Society for Information Science,
Note: Hand in journal this week. Group 7
Presentation Course Evaluation JOURNAL WRITING IDEAS: How do you
interact with science and technology during your week? How does that
differ from the information behavior of scientists and engineers in these
readings? From a situated cognition perspective, how does that affect how
they work with information? From a sense-making perspective, what are they
doing when the engineers search for information?
Apr 29 Week 14
INDIVIDUAL USER GROUP PAPER PRESENTATIONS Note:
Hand in User Group Paper this week
May 6 Week 15
HIB IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY
Sawyer, S. & Rosenbaum, H. (2000). Social Informatics in the
Information Sciences: Current Activities and Emerging Directions.
Informing Science, 3, 89-96. Retrieved September 1, 2001 from http://inform.nu/Articles/Vol3/v3n2p89-96r.pdf.
Course Review We will discuss the emergence of
Social Informatics in Information Science.
Materials for this course have been borrowed from Lisa Covi, Ross Todd,
Tefko Saracevic and Carol Kuhlthau.