Toward a web search model: Integrating multitasking, cognitive coordination, and cognitive shifts



Limited research has investigated the role of multitasking, cognitive coordination, and cognitive shifts during web search. Understanding these three behaviors is crucial to web search model development. This study aims to explore characteristics of multitasking behavior, types of cognitive shifts, and levels of cognitive coordination as well as the relationship between them during web search. Data collection included pre- and postquestionnaires, think-aloud protocols, web search logs, observations, and interviews with 42 graduate students who conducted 315 web search sessions with 221 information problems. Results show that web search is a dynamic interaction including the ordering of multiple information problems and the generation of evolving information problems, including task switching, multitasking, explicit task and implicit mental coordination, and cognitive shifting. Findings show that explicit task-level coordination is closely linked to multitasking, and implicit cognitive-level coordination is related to the task-coordination process; including information problem development and task switching. Coordination mechanisms directly result in cognitive state shifts including strategy, evaluation, and view states that affect users' holistic shifts in information problem understanding and knowledge contribution. A web search model integrating multitasking, cognitive coordination, and cognitive shifts (MCC model) is presented. Implications and further research also are discussed.