Weekly Participation (20%)
Class participation is required for everyone. This means you need to engage with the discussion in class each week. Participation means making a meaningful contribution to an ongoing discussion; simply attending class or nodding along as another student talks does not count as participation.
You have two free passes for the semester -- no explanation needed -- and of course you won't be penalized for a legitimate, excused absence (just drop me an email explaining what is happening, before class if possible). Each week of non-participation (beyond the two free passes and excused absences) will subtract a point from your class participation grade.
Discussion Leading (10%)
Four times during the semester -- Sept. 25, Oct. 16, Nov. 6, and Nov. 27 -- we will engage in student-led discussions of student-selected journal articles (specific dates for each student TBD). This is an in-class assignment only; you do not need to submit anything to Canvas.
Each student will be responsible for selecting, sharing, and leading a discussion in class on a journal article related to their interests in information behavior. This means coming up with questions that will engage the class in meaningful discussion -- not just summarizing the reading. Your goal is to facilitate a discussion that raises and attempts to answer interesting questions, explores deeply the concepts raised in the readings, and provides a positive learning environment for everyone.
Please share a complete reference to the journal article you will be discussing one week prior your assigned discussion leading date.
In general, leading a good discussion on a research article involves covering the following points:
- Present a brief biographical overview of the author(s), summarizing their academic and professional backgrounds, and their primary contributions to the field of information behavior.
- Present a brief summary of the article, including the study's purpose, research question(s), theory/model used (if applicable), methods, and major findings. Examine each of these with the students in class... Do the research questions make sense? Are the theories and methods used appropriately for data collection and analysis? Do the results and conclusions follow logically from the research data gathered?
- Prompt the class to discuss the significance of the article. Why does this article matter? Why did you select it? How does it relate to the other articles we have read in class? What are its major take-away points? What is the value of this article for our field?
- Prompt the class to discuss the implications of this article for practice. How might this article improve our jobs as information professionals? Can we use the results to improve information services for users?
- Prompt the class to discuss the implications of this article for research. What did you learn about things to do and not to do when doing research about information behavior? What are some questions that emerge as a result of this article that lead to further needed study?
Written Assignment 1: Annotated Bibliography (30%)
Due Sunday, October 29. Please submit your assignment to the class Canvas site. Length: minimum 2000 words.
This is an individual writing assignment that provides you the opportunity to develop an annotated bibliography documenting the emergence and evolution of an important aspect of information behavior research. Along the way, we'll look closely at the evolution of research questions and research methods for studying information behavior over time, as well as assumptions about what constitutes user behaviors worth studying.
Identify an information behavior concept, model, theory, method, author, or idea that is relevant to your research interests -- e.g. ELIS, Belkin's ASK, sense-making, information worlds, etc. Once you have selected your topic, use key articles from different time periods as starting points for your research, and explore the development of your topic through databases and resources such as ARIST Chapters, Web of Science, Google Scholar, etc. -- cross-referencing findings and following citation chains to create an annotated bibliography of information behavior research. You should identify at least twenty (20) readings or resources (preferably peer-reviewed journal articles) relevant to your interests.
Submit a paper covering the following points, in this order, using subheadings to separate each point:
- Identify (briefly) the aspect of Information Behavior that you have selected to explore, and explain why you are interested in this topic, and how researching it will help you in your academic work.
- For each of the (twenty minimum) readings or resources you identified related to your topic:
- Provide a complete citation to the reading or resource. You may use any citation style you prefer or are comfortable with, but please be consistent in your use of that style for all of your citations.
- Provide a brief annotation (a decent-sized paragraph) in which you:
- Summarize the key points of the cited work (e.g., topic, purpose, methods, findings, etc.);
- Situate the work in relation to your selected area of focus (e.g., what does this research have to do with your selected topic, and how does it connect to other research in this area?); and
- Explain the key contributions of the work to the field (e.g., how has this research helped move your topic forward?).
Written Assignment 2: Influence Paper (40%)
Due Sunday, December 10. Please submit your assignment to the class Canvas site. Length: minimum 4000 words.
This is an individual writing assignment that provides you the opportunity to write a paper assessing the impact and influence of your chosen topic in information behavior research on the field. Your paper should demonstrate the evolution of your topic over the years by referencing historic and classic works in information needs, seeking, and behavior, as well as more recent research articles.
You may organize this paper however you would like, but your overall goal should be to help us understand the evolution of your selected aspect of information behavior over time, and examine how changing ideas about your chosen topic in particular, and the goals of information behavior research writ large, have driven the field and influenced the research we consider important to conduct.
Please cite the relevant literature as appropriate as you make your arguments throughout your paper, and include a list of references at the end of your paper using whatever citation style you find most comfortable.
Notes on Written Assignments
Submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (EDT or EST, as appropriate) on the dates indicated above. Late assignments will not receive full credit. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact me ASAP before the due date.
When the papers are marked, points will be assigned based on the assumption that you have carefully followed, read, and understood the assignment descriptions. Please do not hesitate to ask for clarifications!
Assignments should be submitted to Canvas as an individual file (PDF preferred), and please make sure your surname is part of the filename.
All submissions must include a title page (or section) listing the name and number of the course, the name of the instructor, YOUR NAME, the name of the assignment, and the date you submitted the assignment.
You are required to use headings and subheadings to make the organization of your paper clear to the reader. The main headings in your paper must correspond to the main sections of the assignment descriptions, listed above. Subdivide each section to reflect its content as necessary.
Papers must be demonstrably spell-checked, grammar-checked, and proofread for nonsense; failure to do so will result in a lower grade.