Genre theory and adolescent information retrieval



The purpose of this study is to describe how a high school student retrieves information in order to write a history research paper, and to investigate the role genre plays in this process of search and paper construction. This study interrogates the conditions under which students are sent to the library to complete research assignments. What is absent from the research of school library use is how the kinds of knowledge expected from the students, and how the kinds of uses and manipulations that information is to be put through are connected to the access and retrieval of information. Because use is the final stage in the information process, this problem is approached by examining the assumptions about language, knowledge, and genre that teachers and students bring to research assignments in the school library. Rhetorical genre theory may be used to construct a representation of information use within an educational setting. Rhetorical genre theory will also be used to determine the method of analysis. By examining a few instances of high school history research, we can begin to systematize the features found beyond the sample to a larger study. An interdisciplinary approach that integrates classification theory, information seeking behavior, and rhetorical practices may help to characterize effective models in information retrieval.