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Fast searching for information on the Internet to use in a learning context: The impact of domain knowledge

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Computers & Education Volume 52, Number 3, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


The purpose of the study was to examine the role of domain knowledge when retrieving and using information from the Internet as a resource for essay tasks, as well as to investigate the quality of Internet searches and its relation to essay performance. In two experiments, 100 undergraduates searched the Internet for 30min and completed two essays; one in which they had high domain knowledge and one in which domain knowledge was low. Two control groups of 70 undergraduates just wrote the essays. Searching the Internet for information enhanced essay performance relative to the control groups only for the topic for which participants had high domain knowledge. In the second experiment, analyses of Internet searches revealed large individual differences in search behaviors and these behaviors did not relate to essay performance, although individuals highlighted the importance of domain knowledge in making their searches easier. Domain knowledge is one factor that educators should pay attention to when using the Internet for learning tasks, particularly when study time is limited, in order to maximize the ability of students to successfully retrieve and use information from the Internet.


Willoughby, T., Anderson, S.A., Wood, E., Mueller, J. & Ross, C. (2009). Fast searching for information on the Internet to use in a learning context: The impact of domain knowledge. Computers & Education, 52(3), 640-648. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved December 6, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on February 1, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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