Encountering the Task
...Recognize the need for information.
...Become aware of possibilities.
...Select general area of need/concern.
...Seek background information.
Back to Information Seeking Behavior Process Model

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Take a Closer Look!

  • When students are first given an assignment, they recognize their need for information to enhance what they may already know about a problem. According to Carol Kuhlthau, "thoughts are vague and ambiguous centering on the general problem or area of uncertainty."
  • Students will become aware of an array of possibilities to explore when they are engaged in motivational discussion and fact-finding.
  • Students will select a general area of need or concern when they begin to focus on a personal point of view
  • Students will seek background information in order to extend their personal understanding of the general area of concern.

Seek Background Information

Use the BCPS databases of magazines, newspapers, and special reference sources to familiarize yourself with the subject of the assignment. When you use this in school, no password is needed; however, when you use them at home, you will need the passwords provided by your school library media specialist

Search the Internet using some of the popular search engines listed on the onLINE website.

Get answers from a librarian, not a machine! Try AskUsNow, an interactive live conversation with a librarian who will give you answers and online resources to use.

Use your school library automated catalog to locate books about the subject of your assignment. Check out the table of contents and index for more detailed information about a general subject.

Getting Started: the Pre-research - secondary research process tutorial from the Oregon State Library System

Seek Background Information - part of a research strategies tutorial from Ohio State University

What Do You Need? The first step in a guide from the University of New England


A reading must...Carol Kuhlthau ...the expert on student information seeking behavior. Check out her articles below:

Information Search Process: Search for Meaning Rather Than Answers (Carol Kuhlthau, Rutgers) Great article by Kuhlthau that gives advice regarding student anxiety with encountering a research/problem-based project. She states, "No matter how well students were oriented to the library and its resources, there was a common pattern of behavior when they came to the library for the first few days of their research. They are confused and disoriented, often expressing annoyance at the assignment, the library, and themselves." Her insights, research in student information seeking behavior, and her Information Seeking Model provide a "heads-up" to teachers and librarians to reduce student anxiety and frustration. Kuhlthau advises that anxiety and uncertainty are easier to handle if they are anticipated. See the review of Kuhlthau's book, Seeking Meaning. Another Kuhlthau resource is Accommodating the User's Information Search Process: Challenges for Information Retrieval System Designers

Dimensions of Learning - Dimensions of Learning is a comprehensive model that uses what researchers and theorists know about learning to define the learning process. Its premise is that five types of thinking -- what we call the five dimensions of learning -- are essential to successful learning.

Dimensions of Learning - Tutorial produced by Prince George's County Public Schools, Maryland

Research Helper Tools and Advice

A+ Research and Writing - (Internet Public Library for Teens) A step-by-step "process" guide for successful student research

Define Your Assignment - secondary research process tutorial from the Oregon State Library System

Quick Tips for the Panic-Stricken | Getting Started

Research/Project Helper - When you receive your task or assignment you need to clarify what you have to do to successfully complete the task.  Print and complete the
Task Definition Chart to help you understand what you need to do. 

Smart Research Strategies - online tutorial from Ohio State University

The Research Process - tutorial from LSU. clearly define your topic or information need.

Tips to Avoid Research Anxiety is a checklist of helpful advice that will reduce fear and frustration when given a research or large project-based assignment. You aren't sure where to start and you're feeling a bit queasy or apprehensive . You aren't alone. Many students feel exactly the same way

Think Tank is designed to help students (grades 3-8) develop a Research Organizer (a list of topics and subtopics) for reports and projects. Based on the subject assigned, the students can refine it by choosing from a variety of suggestions and by using a random subtopic generator. This helps students learn how to refine a subject so that it is more manageable for Internet research. Think Tank can be used alone or with another HPR*TEC product, NoteStar. Once students have developed their topics, they may export their topics to NoteStar. The only requirement is that their instructor has already set up NoteStar Accounts for them.

Why Use Primary Sources? - Library of Congress provides a rationale for use of primary source documents for student researchers. Use LC toolkit to locate resources.

National Standards

AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner

ISTE NETS for Students