For each cohort (UF graduate students, UF undergraduate students, Santa Fe College students, and Alachua County fourth through twelfth graders), our team distributed a prescreen survey. At the college level, we provided a link to a Qualtrics survey on both the UF and Santa Fe College library websites for students to follow. For our grade school cohorts (4-5, 6-8, 9-12), we distributed paper surveys within the schools and at local public libraries, as well as post cards with the link to the Qualtrics survey embedded on our project website.
Potential participants were contacted using the contact information provided on the prescreen surveys. The adult cohorts (UF and Santa Fe students) were contacted via email and grade school cohorts were contacted through their parents via phone call/voicemail. Sessions were scheduled in two-hour blocks. One research team member facilitated session with participants from the adult cohorts, and two research team members facilitated any sessions with a participant that was under 18 years of age.
Once a session was scheduled, each participant was issued an anonymous Participant ID and that session was tracked using Trello, an online scheduling and tracking tool. Any participant information that was not yet anonymized was stored in a secure file. Research sessions were held either at Marston Science Library or at the Santa Fe College Tyree Library.
Research simulation session:
The simulation was designed to be a controlled Google search environment, with identical search results/resources for each participant across a particular cohort. The simulation was created by an Instructional Designer using Articulate Storyline.
For all cohorts, each session was comprised of an identical set of tasks, with the level of resources available according to participant grade, age, and perceived research experience. After a brief pre-simulation interview, the facilitator read clear instructions to the participant that explained what s/he was going to see on the screen, what s/he was expected to do for the duration of the session, and explained the think-aloud protocol. Each session was recorded using Mediasite; only the screen activity and the voices of each facilitator and participant were recorded. The session tasks were as follows:
Following the completed tasks, the facilitator conducted a brief post-simulation interview. At the conclusion of the session, each participant was given an Amazon gift card ($50 for college cohorts and $25 for grade school cohorts) for their time and effort.