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Abstract

This research consisted of investigating seven hypotheses using the following components: 1. Observation of forty-three secondary school children using the Internet and the library to complete five tasks. 2. An interview was held with all the participants in the study that was audio taped and subsequently transcribed. 3. An on-line form was constructed so that the students could nominate their favourite educational web sites for each class subject. The participants were given five tasks and had to find the answers using two of the most common forms of information retrieval found in Irish schools, the Internet and the school library. Subsequently they were asked twenty questions about their opinions on aspects of the library and the Internet. Points of interest here included that the majority of participants felt that the Internet is faster, easier to use, and better overall than the library, even though it was proven not to be the case. It was also found that the participants nominated sites by domain name without actually investigating if the domain name had any reference to the subject in question. The observation, interview and voting data was then analysed using SPSS to investigate the seven hypotheses. These findings were then reported, discussed and ideas for future study were recommended. Proposed technical and teaching solutions to problems uncovered in this research are also outlined. The above findings have implications for search engine design, the curriculum of the Irish education system, and for teachers in how they use both the Internet and the library to their full potential.

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