This course is for both graduate and undergraduate students, with course requirements differing for each type of student. The subject matter is important for both virtual and in libray searching. I look forward to teaching it.


Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 


Course Description: 

Information-seeking theories, methods, and user behaviors will be covered in order to gain an understanding of how people seek, gather, retrieve and use information. Information-seeking behavior draws on literature from library and information science, psychology, and communications.

The course will be taught in seminar form, emphasizing student questions and answers. The online lectures are supplemented with active discussions through the class D2L site. Students will be expected to keep current with readings, class materials, and discussions throughout the semester.

Course Objective: 

Successful completion of this course will help students achieve the A1, A2, B4, and C8 competencies outlined at


The main goal of the course is to become familiar with the principles and research related to information seeking. More specifically, by the end of the course, students will have demonstrated a theoretical and practical knowledge of:

·          The main concepts related to information needs, uses, users, and seeking, including models and theories of information seeking;

·          The searching strategies and techniques, including emotion, cognition and learning theory;

·          The concepts and frameworks from the literature and apply them to specific examples and cases; including representations of inquiry and the role of language in searching;

·          The main findings, questions, theories, and researchers associated with human information seeking behaviors;

·          How to observe and analyze information seeking behaviors in a context/environment, including investigating information seeking behaviors in electronic information environments.



Required Course Materials: 


Donald Owen Case (2006) Looking for Information, Second Edition: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behavior. San Diego: Academic Press.


Additionally, scholarly article readings will be provided in the D2L content site.



Course Requirements: 

I. Readings - With the exception of Week 1, all students are required to come to class having read materials assigned for that day.  Students will be assigned to summarize or interpret readings as part of the grade. Some readings may have quizzes or online exercises. Undergraduate students will receive more weight from these assignments than graduate students.


II. Discussions – All students are expected to participate in constructive, collaborative, logical discussion of the readings and topics. Discussion Board postings need be submitted on time. Entries need be substantive and show thoughtful insights into the topic. Responses to other postings need be meaningful and go beyond just agreeing or disagreeing. All students need be consistently respectful of others’ ideas.


III. Pathfinder – All students, working in groups, will compile an annotated bibliography, a list of references for Social Contexts of Information Seeking by the following categories; information needs, uses, and contexts, conceptual framework, study and evaluation of information, information channels, information barriers, and information quality. The type or phenomenon of information seeking should address at least two of the following; searching, browsing, encountering, gate keeping, filtering, sharing, withholding, processing or learning. This project is graded on the quality of annotations, group work and format. Each group will locate thirty possible sources and select a final number based on the following metric; undergraduate students will complete two annotations and graduate students will complete four annotations. The rationale for the selection will be included in the final product.


IV. User Study - Graduate students are expected to conduct a real-world experience or evaluation of information seeking behaviors in a self selected social context and information system. The project will include a two-page proposal of the experience due at the mid term and an online presentation to the class of the findings of the study, including; problem/issue studies, research question, data collected and analyzed, significance to the social context, and a statement of personal relationships to the topic and participants. More information on research methods to use will be given in class. This project is graded on the quality of the proposal (40%) and the quality of the finished product (60%). Undergraduate students will be required to observe and ask questions to the graduate students.


V. Final Paper – All students will write a final paper that will be five to six pages in length and should contain two sections; 1) three quarters of the paper will be an overview of the student’s personal scholarly understanding of information seeking behaviors and 2) one quarter of the paper will be an overview of how the information and understandings reached will impact the student’s professional practice in the future.



Course Grading: 

In order to receive a grade of B for the class, students will have to have completed all assignments for the class reflecting a good grasp of the topic and integrating the lecture material, discussions and readings.  An A will signify that all work was completed well and

a substantial amount of the work was completed excellently. In addition, to receive an A or B, students must engage actively in discussions throughout the semester and demonstrate familiarity with lecture materials and readings. A C or lower will be given if some assignments are not completed, if a significant number of assignments are not completed acceptably, or if a student fails to participate in class discussions or to engage with the course content.


Each assignment will be graded and each assignment will be given a percentage weight for the semester grade, shown in the table above with the descriptions of each assignment. Assignments will be given the following grades:


A - Superior Work (90-100)

B - Very Good (80-89)

C - Marginally Satisfactory (70-79)

D - Unsatisfactory (60-69)

E - Failed to meet requirements (59 or below)


The instructor reserves the right to modify the course during the semester as deemed fit and reasonable.



Course Policies: 

Academic Code of Integrity

Students are expected to abide by The University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity ( 'The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student's submitted work must be the student's own.' If you have any questions regarding what is acceptable practice under this Code, please ask an Instructor.


Accommodating Disabilities

The University has a Disability Resource Center ( If you anticipate the need for reasonable accommodations to meet the requirements of this course, you must register with the Disability Resource Center and request that the DRC send me, the Instructor, official notification of your accommodation needs as soon as possible. Please plan to meet with me by appointment or during office hours to discuss accommodations and how my course requirements and activities may impact your ability to fully participate.


Assignment Policies

Due Dates: It is expected that assignments will be submitted by the dates specified, with the date ending at 11:59pm, unless otherwise specified. The instructor will be willing to negotiate alternative dates as needed but only if such negotiation takes place prior to the due date. Late assignments that have not been negotiated beforehand will be accepted at the discretion of the instructor.


Participation: A significant portion of the semester grade is dependent on active participation and engagement in the substance of the class including the discussion topics, lectures, and readings. There will be ongoing discussions throughout the semester. Students will be expected to read the postings in the discussion forum and to contribute their ideas and opinions on a continuing basis as well as initiating new topics and introducing new ideas. 


Students may be assigned to team discussion group and if that is the case discussions will be held in these groups. 


Participation points will be given on the basis of the percentage of postings read and the number and quality of contributions. A substantive posting is one that contributes new information, new ideas, or new perspectives or one that moves the conversation along or into new areas. 


How to submit assignments: Completed assignments will be submitted via the D2L dropbox unless otherwise specified.  Assignments will normally be commented on and graded and returned to students via the drop box within 7-10 days.


Writing style: Assignments are expected to be professional in appearance; that is, they are neat, grammatically correct, with no spelling or typographical errors. Citations are required for all work and may be in any recognized format as long as they are consistent. APA format is preferred. Use Times New Roman 12 point font and double-space your work. 



The 1997-8 University of Arizona General Academic Manual, p.23 reads:


“The grade of I may be awarded only at the end of a semester, when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed.  The grade of I may be awarded only at the end of a semester, when all but a minor portion of the course work has been satisfactorily completed.  The grade of I is not to be awarded when the student is expected to repeat the course; in such a case the grade of E must be assigned.  Students should make arrangements with the instructor to receive an incomplete grade before the end of the semester. If the incomplete is not removed by the instructor within one year the I grade will revert to a failing grade.”


The SIRLS Instructor and the student will negotiate a specific date for all course work to be submitted. This negotiation will take place by email or in writing and a copy will be included in the student’s SIRLS file.

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences