Modelling the information behaviour of children and young people

Andrew K. Shenton (Monkseaton High School, Whitley Bay, UK)
Naomi V. Hay‐Gibson (School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Publication date: 20 September 2011



This paper seeks to draw on the linguistic model of narrative recursion developed by Ochs and Capps and on data collected and analysed in previous research projects conducted by Shenton in order to synthesise a new framework that represents the information behaviour of children and young people.


The model of narrative recursion provides the basis of the framework proposed. However, additional, LIS‐specific details have been introduced to ensure that the reworked version represents the phenomenon of information behaviour pertaining to the young as appropriately as possible.


The individual elements within the Ochs and Capps model correspond closely to three phases typically associated with information behaviour – the emergence of an information need, information‐seeking action, and information use.

Research limitations/implications

No claim is made that the model delineates all instances of information behaviour. It ignores cases where information is acquired incidentally, where no clear goal is involved in the activity and where no enhancement of the knowledge state results, even though information has been accessed.

Practical implications

The model is sufficiently simple to be employed in information literacy sessions with secondary school pupils. It could also be extended to provide an instructional tool and is useful in highlighting various points in youngsters' information‐related action where intermediaries may help.


Although the adoption of ideas and frameworks from other disciplines with the aim of increasing understanding of LIS phenomena is a growing trend, the paper forms one of the first attempts to apply to information behaviour an existing model associated with linguistics.



Shenton, A. and Hay‐Gibson, N. (2011), "Modelling the information behaviour of children and young people", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 63 No. 5, pp. 499-516.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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