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Keywords:

  • middle schools;
  • history;
  • information seeking

The article reports the findings of a content analysis study of 16 student-group proposals for a grade eight history project. The students listed their topic and thesis in the proposal, and information in support of their thesis. The study's focus is this topic-to-thesis transition. The study's conceptual framework is Kuhlthau's six stage ISP Model's transition from exploring information in Stage 3 to formulating a focus or personal perspective on the assignment topic in Stage 4. Our study coding scheme identifies elements of the students' implicit knowledge in the 16 proposals. To validate implicit knowledge as a predictor of successful student performance, implicit knowledge was coded, scored, and then the correlation coefficient was established between the score and the students' instructors' marks. In Part 2 of the study we found strong and significant association between the McGill coding scores and the instructors' marks for the 16 proposals. This study is a first step in identifying, operationalizing, and testing user-centered implicit knowledge elements for future implementation in interactive information systems designed for middle school students researching a thesis-objective history assignment.