Exploring users' learning gains within search sessions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The area of search as learning is concerned with the optimization of search systems (that is, retrieval functions, user interface elements, etc.) for human learning - -this is in contrast to the currently dominant paradigm of optimizing the search experience by optimizing for relevance. While prior work typically considers learning as something that happens at some point during the search session, we are interested in when during the search session learning occurs. In order to answer this question, we here present the results of a user study ($N=64$) in which searchers were tasked with learning about a topic by searching the web for 20 minutes; they were prompted at regular intervals during the search session on their knowledge about the topic. We find that for study participants with little to no prior knowledge the learning gains are sublinear, while participants with some prior knowledge have the largest knowledge gains towards the end of the search session.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHIIR 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-6892-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event5th ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval, CHIIR 2020 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 14 Mar 202018 Mar 2020


Conference5th ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval, CHIIR 2020


  • Exploratory search
  • Knowledge gain within search session
  • Learning gain
  • User study


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