Doctoral Posters #17-20
Abstract: Gourmet cooking is a popular hobby in the United States, with several million participants. My dissertation explored the dynamic between gourmet cooks and their culinary documents (i.e. cookbooks and recipes) kept in their homes. This poster focuses on one line of inquiry in the study: How do gourmet cooks use culinary documents? The poster displays how the relationship between gourmet cooks and their documents is complex and does not lend itself to a simple model. The relationship is shaped by personal predilection, cuisine or cooking style, hobby career stage, and situational context. The poster describes these factors to propose a tentative theory about the relationship between enthusiasts and their documents in this hobby.
Purpose/Objective of study: The hobby of gourmet cooking entails a variety of information activities and specialized culinary information resources gathered, created, and used by the hobbyist within the home. Detailed accounts of these information phenomena and their interactions have not been reported and analyzed from the point of view of the hobbyist or from an examination of actual domestic settings. My investigation of this matter is the first ethnographic, context-sensitive, case study of documents in a domestic, hobby realm.
The study has three related objectives. The primary purpose is empirical: to describe the use of documents in the hobby of gourmet cooking. A secondary aim is theoretical: to explore the nature of documents and propose a tentative theory of documents in this hobby. A third goal is methodological: to apply scientific ethnography as an approach to study information phenomena in a home context.
Sample and Setting: 20 fieldwork outings occurred in the homes of gourmet hobby cooks in Boston and Los Angeles. Informants (gourmet cooks) were encountered at public culinary events and recruited through purposive sampling..
Method: This scientific ethnography balanced the personal accounts of gourmet hobby cooks with objective measures of their home-based culinary information collections.
Data collection technique: Three data gathering techniques were used in the home of each cook: (1) a semi-structured interview explored the life-context of the hobby, its routines, and informational elements. Then, the cook led a (2) narrated tour of their home, describing culinary documents in their natural setting. The environment and its information artifacts were recorded through a photographic inventory. After the tour, the floor plan was (3) diagrammed, to capture the distribution of culinary information. The interview and cook's tour commentary were transcribed; photographs and diagrams were captioned. Grounded theory analysis was applied to all textual data and a visual analysis process was performed on the images. Results are presented-as-a-field-note-centered-ethnography.
Results: The poster displays how the relationship between documents and gourmet cooks is complex and does not lends itself to a simple model. The relationship is shaped by personal predilection, cuisine or cooking style, hobby career stage, and situational context. These characteristics form a tentative theory to explore further in future research.
Abstract: An examination of the literature shows that no one has analyzed the complex and multifaceted issues surrounding information-seeking behavior of staff and students in a virtual secondary school setting and no theoretical or conceptual framework has been applied to this environment. This exploratory study investigates the information-seeking behavior of the staff and students of the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) using a case study approach. The research questions address the manner in which the staff and students of the FLVS seek information resources and services and whether their information-seeking behavior can be explained by the application of the Bates berrypicking model. Influencing factors studied are integration of information literacy and demographics such as educational background, experience, gender, age, instructional subject area and students’ current educational environment as they affect the FLVS students and staff when seeking out and using information resources and services. The context of the case is presented through issues that affect information seeking in a virtual school such as legislative policy, budgetary policy, and accreditation issues. A report of findings through this poster session will offer answers to the research questions and describe how the circumstances are likely to have influenced the information-seeking behavior studied.
Purpose/Objective of study: The purpose of this research study was to investigate the manner in which the staff and students of the Florida Virtual School seek out information resources and services and whether their information-seeking behavior can be explained by the application, modification, or extension of the Bates berrypicking model.
Sample and Setting: The population included sixteen administrators, all instructional designers, and all 308 full time teachers. In addition, thirty-six English II students in a class containing an open-ended research assignment were included as part of the population of this study. The Florida Virtual School was selected as the setting for this study.
Method (Qualitative, quantitative, historical, etc): A case study design, incorporating a mixed methods approach with both qualitative and quantitative components, was employed.
Data collection technique(s) (Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, etc): Data collection techniques incorporated into this study included the collection of documents, phone interviews and online surveys.
Purpose/Objective of study: The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework for legal information behavior in the law clinic setting. A strong conceptual framework for legal information behavior can be used to improve design and evaluation methods for legal information systems and services.
Sample and Setting: This study examined academic law school researchers from the Villanova University School of Law Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic. Purposive sampling was employed. Student teams were observed in the law clinic setting as they constructed legal theories and located legal materials.
Method (Qualitative, quantitative, historical, etc): The conceptual framework for this study is Solomon's Discovering Information in Context approach (Solomon, 2002). This approach allows for multiple perspectives in the study of information behavior, and puts forth Activity Theory as a possible tool for exploring how people discover information. The information use environment (Taylor, 1991) of the law clinic is seen in this study as an activity system, where concepts of use and users revolve around people, how they find help and solutions to their problems, and the active discovery and design processes they engage in as they make sense of their world. Multiple methods were used to obtain a sense of the “roundness” or the broad context, of the clinical legal information use environment.
Four types of analyses were employed: 1) situating the activities of the clinic historically, looking for "tensions and contradictions" within the activity system 2) situating the activities observed in the clinic within a "web of activities" using the Activity Theory matrix and 3) looking for "breakdown situations." In addition, a “theoretical analysis” was performed, a discovery approach looking at a variety of information behavior theories and models which might “fit” the activities observed within the clinic.
Data collection technique(s) (Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, etc): The data collection occurred in four primary stages: 1) Videotaped observation of law school clinical students and research assistants in their weekly meetings with their instructor/supervisor; 2) videotaped "think aloud" sessions as they interacted with electronic research systems such as Lexis and Westlaw (supplemented with research logs from Lexis and Westlaw), 3) post-observation interviews (audiotaped) and 4) examination of client case file documents.
Results: This study highlights that legal information activity systems should be understood in terms of how they are situated in the historical context of how lawyers research, how they use legal arguments in legal documents, and how they practice law. The findings showed the deeply collaborative nature of research in the law clinic environment, and how various sources of memory were used in the clinic (individual, organizational, group, and tools such as books and databases). In the law school clinic, information behavior was embedded in a context of collaboration which had an impact, either directly or indirectly, on almost every aspect of information seeking and use. Thinking of memory "in the round" allows you to consider the people, their work, the systems they use, and the environment in which they use them as they engage in information behavior.
Purpose/Objective of study: Social networks are critical in everyone’s information world, especially for people who are in a transitional period of their lives when large amounts of information is needed to smooth over unforeseeable difficulties. International Chinese graduate students pursuing higher education in the U.S. are such a group. The goal of this research is to produce a holistic description and analysis of the dialectical relationship between Chinese graduate students’ information seeking behavior and their social networks. The overarching research questions are: what are the characteristics and structure of international Chinese graduate students’ social networks in the U.S., and how do these characteristics influence their everyday life access to information?
Sample and Setting: UCLA serves as the research site. 36 international Chinese graduate students at UCLA will be selected based on their gender, disciplines, and length of residence in the U.S.
Method (Qualitative, quantitative, historical, etc): The metatheory dictating the present research is collectivism, which is socio-cognitive in nature and posits a reality in which human behavior and social forces exist in dynamic relationships. It views ISU in the totality and integration of social relationships and contexts, and orients research focus on the impact of social milieu on ISU. Therefore, a qualitative research approach is warranted.
Data collection technique(s) (Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, etc): 1) structured network interviews : to gather data on the structure and characteristics of international Chinese graduate students’ social networks; 2)Semi-structured qualitative interviews: to collect data on the formation and evolution of international Chinese students’ social networks, their ISU via social networks, and the utilities of social capital.
Results: Chinese graduate students’ social networks in the U.S. have started to form even before they come to the U.S., and have undergone many changes since they arrived in the U.S. Their original networks usually start off with several people who usually are their college alumni, relatives, or future advisors. These ties play key roles in helping students get oriented and settle down in the U.S. Once here, students’ networks begin to expand at various tempos and via different channels. Their networks generally are 1) very homogenous; 2) small in size; 3) highly mobile; 4) composed of mainly strong ties and few weak ties; 5) of high density and high multistrandedness. As a result, international Chinese graduate students’ social capital, herein potential information resources, is potentially limited in its utility for these students’ ISU as the structure and characteristics of their social networks constrain the flow of useful and new information into their community.