This NSDL Targeted Research project is evaluating the use and utility of metadata from multiple perspectives. These include the comparison of the subjective quality of metadata that is assigned both manually and automatically to learning resources; the comparison of the retrieval effectiveness due to metadata that is assigned manually versus automatically to learning resources; determination of searching and browsing behaviors of users when engaged in information seeking in the digital library; and an analysis of the relative contribution of individual elements of the GEM + Dublin Core metadata scheme to users' searching and browsing behavior. Teachers, education students and professors are participating in the studies, using metatagged learning resources from the National STEM Education Digital Library. The investigation of these issues is grouped into two sets of experiments. The first focuses on evaluating the metadata's quality and effectiveness and uses a standard information retrieval scenario to compare precision and recall scores for searches done on the manually assigned metadata and the automatically assigned metadata. The second focuses on understanding the ways in which subjects utilize metadata for information access tasks, be they browsing or searching, and which metadata elements are used most frequently as well as the relative contribution of each metadata element. The investigating team is using convergent methods to assemble a rich picture of user information-seeking behavior, considering what the users are thinking, looking at, and doing when engaged in their information-accessing tasks. Significant co-funding of this project is being provided by the Research on Learning and Education Program in the NSF Division of Research, Evaluation, and Communication in recognition of the project's key studies on user information seeking and knowledge management behavior.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
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Lee L. Zia
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Syracuse University
United States
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