September 5, 2014
Congratulations to Kathy Brennan, a Ph.D. student at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), and SILS professors Dr. Diane Kelly and Dr. Jaime Arguello for winning the Best Paper Award from the 2014 Information Interaction in Context Conference (IIiX 2014) in Regensburg, Germany. Their paper, “The Effect of Cognitive Abilities & Information Search for Tasks of Varying Levels of Complexity,” investigated the manners in which our cognitive abilities affect search behaviors and perceptions of workload while conducting search tasks.
According to the paper’s abstract, “We assessed participants’ associative memory, perceptual speed, and visualization abilities also measured workload…Our results suggested three important trends: (1) associative memory ability had no significant effect on search behavior and workload, (2) visualization ability had a significant effect on search behavior, but not workload, and (3) perceptual speed had a significant effect on search behavior and workload.”
Brennan began developing the idea for this project during her time as an MSLS student. She noticed a dearth of significant research investigating how our cognitive abilities enable us to stay integrated with recent changes in the information world.
“Even though today we have many new types of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, wearable computing, etc.), information systems, and ways of searching for information, our brains operate essentially the same way they did before any of today’s technologies or information paradigms ever came into being,” Brennan said. “By better understanding how the domains of human ability impact individuals differently while they are searching for and using information, we can create user systems that are truly adaptive to people’s individual needs.”
For earning this award, Brennan, Dr. Kelly, and Dr. Arguello each received a certificate at the IIiX banquet along with a 500 Euro award (approximately $647 USD), which Brennan plans to use to support her upcoming doctoral research study. Brennan also presented her paper on the final day of the conference. She plans to continue this research for her doctoral dissertation and in the years to come.
“I want to say thank you to my co-authors, Diane Kelly and Jaime Arguello, for their efforts and support in writing the paper,” Brennan said. “I am very fortunate to get to work with these two top-notch academics. I am also deeply humbled by the experience of being recognized as standing out among my colleagues. There were many excellent papers at IIiX 2014 written by people whose work I’ve often admired and aspired to. I feel honored and grateful to get to represent SILS in this way.”