Supporting Children’s Web Search in School Environments

Nowadays, the Internet represents a ubiquitous source of information and communication. Its central role in everyday life is reflected in the curricula of modern schools. Already in early grades, children are encouraged to search for information on-line. However, the way in which they interact with state-of-the-art search interfaces and how they explore and interpret the presented information, differs greatly from adult user behaviour. Our work describes a qualitative user study in which the Web search behaviour of Dutch elementary school children was observed and classified into roles motivated by prior research in cognitive science. Building on the findings of this survey, we propose an automatic method of identifying struggling searchers in order to enable teaching personnel to provide appropriate and targeted guidance where needed.

This article was accepted for publication at IIiX 2012.

EmSe: Initial Evaluation of a Child-friendly Medical Search System

When undergoing medical treatment in combination with extended stays in hospitals, children have been frequently found to develop an interest in their condition and the course of treatment. A natural means of searching for related information would be to use a web search engine. The medical domain, however, imposes several key challenges on young and inexperienced searchers, such as difficult terminology, potentially frightening topics or non-objective information offered by lobbyists or pharmaceutical companies. To address these problems, we present the design and usability study of EmSe, a search service for children in a hospital environment.

This article was accepted for presentation as a poster at IIiX 2012.

Quality through Flow and Immersion: Gamifying Crowdsourced Relevance Assessments

Crowdsourcing is a market of steadily-growing importance upon which both academia and industry increasingly rely. However, this market appears to be inherently infested with a significant share of malicious workers who try to maximise their profits through cheating or sloppiness. This serves to undermine the very merits crowdsourcing has come to represent. Based on previous experience as well as psychological insights, we propose the use of a game in order to attract and retain a larger share of reliable workers to frequently-requested crowdsourcing tasks such as relevance assessments and clustering. In a large-scale comparative study conducted using recent TREC data, we investigate the performance of traditional HIT designs and a game-based alternative that is able to achieve high quality at significantly lower pay rates, facing fewer malicious submissions.

This article was accepted for publication in SIGIR 2012.