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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2015

Beth St. Jean, Mega Subramaniam, Natalie Greene Taylor, Rebecca Follman, Christie Kodama and Dana Casciotti

The aim of this paper is to investigate whether/how youths’ pre-existing beliefs regarding health-related topics influence their online searching behaviors, such as their…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to investigate whether/how youths’ pre-existing beliefs regarding health-related topics influence their online searching behaviors, such as their selection of keywords and search results, their credibility assessments and the conclusions they draw and the uses they make (or do not make) of the information they find. More specifically, we sought to determine whether positive hypothesis testing occurs when youth search for health information online and to ascertain the potential impacts this phenomenon can have on their search behaviors, their ability to accurately answer health-related questions and their confidence in their answers.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory field experiment was conducted with participants in an after-school program (“HackHealth”), which aims to improve the health literacy skills and health-related self-efficacy of middle-school students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Findings

Evidence of positive hypothesis testing among the participants was found and important impacts on their search outcomes were observed.

Practical implications

The paper was concluded with suggestions for improving digital literacy instruction for youth so as to counteract the potentially negative influences of positive hypothesis testing.

Originality/value

This study extends existing research about positive hypothesis testing to investigate the existence and impact of this phenomenon within the context of tweens (ages 11-14) searching for health information online.

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Article
Publication date: 11 May 2015

Mega Subramaniam, Natalie Greene Taylor, Beth St. Jean, Rebecca Follman, Christie Kodama and Dana Casciotti

The purpose of this paper is to focus on disadvantaged tweens’ (ages 11 through 13) strategies for making predictive and evaluative judgments of the credibility of health…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on disadvantaged tweens’ (ages 11 through 13) strategies for making predictive and evaluative judgments of the credibility of health information online. More specifically, this paper identifies the features of Google search results pages and web sites that signal credibility (or lack thereof) to this population and the reasons behind their perceptions.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employed an ethnographic approach (using various types of data collection methods) targeted to generate in-depth descriptions of tweens making predictive and evaluative judgments of credibility, focussing on the ways in which these tweens naturally assess the credibility of online information.

Findings

The research has yielded novel findings concerning the types of factors that influence disadvantaged tweens’ credibility assessment strategies, such as limited English-language vocabularies, lack of familiarity with perhaps otherwise well-known sources, and forced reliance on (and/or general preference for) non-textual modalities, such as audio and video.

Practical implications

The findings indicate a need for implementing digital literacy programs in a naturalized setting, building on tweens’ existing heuristics and thereby resulting in strategies that are simultaneously compatible with their natural inclinations within the online environment and likely to consistently lead them to accurate credibility-related judgments.

Originality/value

This study provides novel insights into how disadvantaged tweens interact with online health information in a natural context, and offers invaluable information regarding the ways in which credibility assessment processes should be facilitated within formal or informal digital literacy programs.

Details

Journal of Documentation, vol. 71 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0022-0418

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

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