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Task complexity and information searching in administrative tasks revisited

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIIiX 2012 - Proceedings 4th Information Interaction in Context Symposium: Behaviors, Interactions, Interfaces, Systems
Pages204-213
Number of pages10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
Event4th Information Interaction in Context Symposium, IIiX 2012 - Nijmegen, Netherlands
Duration: 21 Aug 201224 Aug 2012

Conference

Conference4th Information Interaction in Context Symposium, IIiX 2012
CountryNetherlands
CityNijmegen
Period21/08/1224/08/12

Abstract

In task-based information searching, the task at hand is a central factor affecting information search. Task complexity, in particular, has been discovered to affect searching. In the present study, we shadowed the tasks of seven people working in city administration. The data consist of shadowing field notes, voice recordings, photographs and forms. We study, how task complexity affects information searching and information resource use. Task complexity was defined through the task performer's own experience (perceived task complexity) and her estimates of her a priori knowledge concerning the task. We analyzed the data both qualitatively and quantitatively, focusing on the links between task complexity and the use of information resources, information searching and problems encountered. We found that task complexity has a central but ambiguous relationship to task performance. The clearest differences were found between simple and complex tasks. In addition, perceived task complexity seems to affect the ways of performing the task more than a priori knowledge. The more complex a task is perceived, the more searches are performed and the more they concentrate on networked resources instead of information systems provided by the organization (SPOs). The use of resources on the task performer's PC and the SPOs decreases when complexity increases. In proportion, the use of networked resources and communication resources increases. The total number of information resources used is somewhat greater in complex and semi-complex tasks than in simple tasks; and each resource is used for a longer time on average. Our study shows that task context and especially task complexity seems to affect information searching and the selection of sources.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Keywords

  • Task-based information searching