Information seeking and learning: a comparison of Kuhlthau's information seeking model and John Dewey's problem solving model

Linda Isabella Fainburg (PhD applicant, Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 2 October 2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explain how the users' information need could be compared with a learning, knowledge and research need where the purpose of information seeking is to find relevant information in relation to the fulfilment of a specific goal and information need in order to become information literate.

Design/methodology/approach

By theoretical considerations and studies of research literature an analysis and comparison of Kuhlthaus's ISP‐model and Dewey's problem solving model are presented. According to epistemological pragmatism information seeking is primarily a process of finding relevant and useful information in relation to the fulfilment of a specific research need. This can be accomplished by a combination between rationalistic thinking and action. Therefore the paper stats that pragmatism is a fruitful epistemological view for library and information science research and practice

Findings

This paper presents, compares, and discusses Kuhlthau's ISP‐model and Dewey's problem solving model. First, it is clear that both Kuhlthau and Dewey are focusing on the close relationship between thinking and action where both information seeking and problem solving is considered a learning process. Second, both Kuhlthau and Dewey find that information seeking is easier when the problem is more focused or the hypothesis more verified. However, when Kuhlthau rather extensively pays attention to the feelings of uncertainty during the ISP, Dewey finds only that problem solving initiates uncertainty and perplexity.

Practical implications

This paper may provide guidelines for academic libraries interested in developing their information literacy program.

Originality/value

This paper points out that further epistemological, theoretical and empirical investigations of the relationship between Kuhlthau's ISP‐model and Dewey's problem solving model are necessary. In particular, further investigations of specific user groups of Research Libraries and their information seeking and problem solving are important in order to optimize Research Libraries' educational programmes.

Keywords

Citation

Isabella Fainburg, L. (2009), "Information seeking and learning: a comparison of Kuhlthau's information seeking model and John Dewey's problem solving model", New Library World, Vol. 110 No. 9/10, pp. 457-466. https://doi.org/10.1108/03074800910997472

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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