The iSchool, College of Information Science and Technology, Drexel University,  Assistant Professor Michael Khoo and Doctoral Student Catherine Hall Earn Best Paper


A paper by iSchool Assistant Professor Michael Khoo and doctoral student Catherine Hall, titled “What Would ‘Google’ Do? Users’ Mental Models of a Digital Library Search Engine,” was awarded first place in the best paper competition at the September 2012, 2nd International Conference on Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries (TPDL 2012, Cyprus). The paper will appear in Springer-Verlag  Lecture Notes on Computer Science, Vol. 7489.


Abstract from “What Would ‘Google’ Do? Users’ Mental Models of a Digital Library Search Engine”:

A mental model is a model that people have of themselves, others, the environment, and the things with which they interact, such as technologies. Mental models can support the user-centered development of digital libraries: if we can understand how users perceive digital libraries, we can design interfaces that take these perceptions into account. In this paper, we describe a novel method for eliciting a generic mental model from users, in this case of a digital library’s search engine. The method is based on a content analysis of users’ mental representations of the system’s usability, which they generated in heuristic evaluations. The content analysis elicited features that the evaluators thought important for the search engine. The resulting mental model represents a generic model of the search engine, rather than a clustering of individuals’ mental models of the same search engine. The model includes a number of references to Web search engines as ideal models, but these references are idealistic rather than realistic. We conclude that users’ mental models of Web search engines should not be taken at face value. The implications of this finding for digital library development and design are discussed.


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