Searching as Learning for Critical and Creative Thinking


Although information search systems have evolved from information retrieval systems to full text information-intensive systems over the past two decades, search engines are often conceptualized as tools for finding factual information or short answers to satisfy people’s information needs instantly. According to this traditional perspective on searching, “information” refers to basic pieces of knowledge required for human learning. As a result, searching is often assessed based on the quality of outputs such as search results. The traditional perspective on searching is limited when it comes to demonstrating the potential of search systems as learning technologies that provide rich online spaces in which people can learn and discover new knowledge, and use that knowledge to generate new ideas.

A new perspective taken in this project reframes searching as a learning process, specifically, this project explores how information interactions can support the development of higher-order learning related to information literacy, critical thinking, and creative thinking. Scholars have proposed various frameworks, standards, and perspectives for studying these key learning processes, yet minimal research explores the relationships between them. A map of the relationships between information literacy, critical thinking, and creative thinking was developed to better understand these higher-order learning processes. Design guidelines and principles for new learning technologies and search interfaces will be developed to support higher-order learning.

I participated in this project as a Summer Graduate Research Fellow at the School of Information at the University of Michigan. My participation in the REMS fellowship program was generously funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School Faculty Allies for Diversity Program.

Project Team
Soo Young Rieh, Contributing Researcher
Elizabeth Lieutenant, Contributing Researcher

Related Publications and Presentation

  1. Lieutenant, E. (2016). Frameworks, standards, and systems: Investigating the relationships between information literacy, critical thinking, and creative thinking. University of Michigan, School of Information: Research Experience for Masters Students Program. Ann Arbor, MI, August 17, 2016.