The role of expertise and task complexity on performance and strategies developed to find information on the Web

[Speaker] Chevalier, Aline:1
[Co-author] Darras, Jonathan:2
1:University of Toulouse (France), 2:University of Paris-Nanterre (France)

Information searching (IS) on the Web is a daily activity for many people, which can be considered as a complex cognitive activity. More precisely, IS using search engine (e.g. Google) requires to formulate keywords, evaluate and select results provided by the search engine, and if none result fits user's needs, s/he has to reformulate the first query. We hypothesized that complexity of the search task to be performed and the level of expertise in the domain (e.g. experts in psychology or geography) would impact the performance and strategies developed. To this end, we carried out an experiment wherein we manipulated the level of expertise of participants (novice vs expert in psychology) and the complexity of the search tasks (simple vs difficult). The main results showed that experts and novices gave about the same number of correct answers, but the experts developed more efficient search strategies than novices did.
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