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Collaborative information searching as learning in academic group work

Dan Wu (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Shaobo Liang (School of Information Management, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Wenting Yu (State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, China)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 15 January 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore users’ learning in the collaborative information search process when they conduct an academic task as a group.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a longitudinal study for a three-month period on an actual task. The participants, who were undergraduate students, needed to write a research proposal in three months to apply for funding for a research project, including a three-hour experiment.

Findings

The results show that undergraduates’ learning in the collaborative search process for academic group work included knowledge reconstruction, tuning, and assimilation. Their understanding of the topic concepts improved through the process, and their attitudes became more optimistic. Besides, the learning in the collaborative information search process also enhanced participants’ skills in communication, research, information search, and collaboration. To improve learning outcomes, professional and appropriate academic resources are required, as well as effective division of labor, positive sharing behaviors, and use of collaborative systems.

Practical implications

The future development of collaborative information search systems should focus on the needs of academic research and support for elements such as instant communication and knowledge sharing.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to research into searching as learning by understanding undergraduates’ collaborative search behavior for writing a proposal.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71673204), and also an outcome of the Wuhan University independent research project (Humanities and Social Sciences) “Human-Computer Interaction and Collaboration Team” (Whu2016020) supported by “The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.”

Citation

Wu, D., Liang, S. and Yu, W. (2018), "Collaborative information searching as learning in academic group work", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 70 No. 1, pp. 2-27. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-03-2017-0063

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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