The research rollercoaster

Photo by Matt Bowden on Unsplash

When we are asked to practise what we preach we begin to understand the pressures some of our students must face. I certainly felt the effect of too much information and experienced many emotions in completing our assignment two discussion essay.

During the essay I suffered from too much information in the form of information overload which occurs when searchers are unable to efficiently use the information, that is, there is too much information for the user to deal with (Bawden & Robinson, 2009, p.182). I also felt information anxiety, of being lost in the digital world and an urge to just satisfice, to take just the right amount of information to suit my needs, but not necessarily the best information available (Bawden & Robinson, 2009, p.185).

I experienced a mix of feelings of curiosity, anxiety, overwhelm, frustration, despair, elation and relief. Curiosity about the assignment, anxiety that I could not find the resources I needed, overwhelm at the level of information, reading and decoding required. Frustration at not being able to remember where I had read information, despair in feeling I had not answered the question or written it well enough, elation of beginning to pull it all together and finally relief in submitting the assignment. Many of these feelings that I experienced are outlined in the Information Search Process (ISP) model. The ISP model depicts the feelings, thoughts and actions of students across seven stages when searching for and using information. As they transition through the stages students may experience feelings of uncertainty, optimism, confusion, clarity, disappointment and satisfaction (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinstrom, 2005).

Helping students with information skills including providing lessons on how to use search options such as databases and library catalogues allow students to effectively search for and retrieve information. Helping students in breaking down the terminology used in the question and possible search criteria is also essential in fine tuning their information skills.  I believe TLs also need to help with organisational skills that support information skills including time management, organised note taking and citation knowledge. The use of the ISP model allows TLs to offer assistance and guidance during each of the ISP stages via the ‘zone of intervention’ which occurs when a student cannot achieve the task or can only achieve it with great difficulty. The only time a  (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.20). This sentence from Kuhlthau et al. (2012, p.22) was a lightbulb moment about the level of assistance TLs should give during the guided inquiry approach ‘In Guided Inquiry, the only “going it alone” is for each student to think about what is personally important and interesting about the inquiry.’

As I reflect on the processes, I realise this is exactly what Judy and Lori modelled to us in the lead up to our assignment. They were leading us through the process that we will need to lead our own students on and most of us probably experienced feelings our own students will experience. Thank you, ladies, for showing the way without me even realising it until now!


Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191, doi:

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2012). Guided inquiry design : A framework for inquiry in your school. Retrieved from

Todd, R. ,Kuhlthau, C. & Heinstrom, J. (2005). School Library Impact Measure (SLIM). A Toolkit and Handbook For Tracking and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes Of Guided Inquiry Through The School Library. Retrieved from

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