Introduction and Background
The difficulty for users of information systems and services may not lie in finding information but in filtering and integrating it into a cohesive whole. To do this, they must be able to make sense of it, an act that assumes knowledge about ones own needs, goals and abilities. This type of self-knowledge is called metacognitive knowledge. It consists of three interrelated components: self-knowledge (awareness of ones own cognition, including knowledge of ones strengths and weaknesses and the awareness of ones motivational beliefs); task knowledge (knowledge about the cognitive demands of the task); and strategic knowledge (procedural knowledge of cognitive strategies to employ when unsuccessful) (Flavell, 1979; Garner & Alexander, 1989; Pintrich, Wolters & Baxter, 1996; Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001). When used in information seeking, metacognitive knowledge may help users to solve complex information problems.
The nature of metacognitive knowledge as it relates to adolescents and the search process has been largely unexplored and remains an area of youth information seeking behavior research that is open to discovery. The concept of metacognition was introduced to the school library audience by Bertland (1986), in her review of research that could have implications for information skills instruction. At that point in time, research in this area was new and principally connected to text comprehension rather than information seeking as a distinct activity. Metacognitive knowledge a subset of metacognition – is implied in many process models (Eisenberg, M.B. & Berkowitz, R.E., 1990; Kuhlthau, 1991, 2004; Harada, V. & Tepe, A., 1998; Irving, 1985; Stripling & Pitts, 1988; Todd, R., 1998; Yucht, A. H. 1997, 2002), but there is surprisingly little that tells us what this type of knowledge actually looks like in practice, particularly in the context of information seeking. Is the metacognitive knowledge used to solve an information problem qualitatively different than the metacogntive knowledge used to solve a math problem? What does the metacognitive knowledge of adolescents look like and what patterns result from either the use or lack of such knowledge?