Information Processing


"As great amounts of information become available to each individual citizen, the ability of each person to intelligently process that information takes on increased importance. Developing the dispositions and skills necessary for informed information processing then becomes a necessary component of education in an information age. Although several information processing models have been developed, the Pathways to Knowledge model developed by Marjorie L. Pappas and Ann E. Tepe is a well conceived and well documented model" (Switzer, Callahan, & Quinn, 1999).

For Information Processing Summary, see  Pathways to Knowledge Model.


Note. Pathways to Knowledge (, by M.L. Pappas and A.E. Tepe, 1997, is used with permission from Follett Software Company. Copyright by Follett Software Company, 1391 Corporate Drive, McHenry, Illinois 60050.

Bibliography for the Pathways to Knowledge Model

The Pathways to Knowledge Model was developed and revised by Marjorie L. Pappas and Ann E. Tepe based on their experiences as school librarians working with students engaged in the research process. The stages and strategies were included based on the body of knowledge emerging from many studies by school library researchers and the experiences of practitioners. The most significant of these studies was the work of Carol Collier Kuhlthau, whose research established that gathering and using information was a process. A sampling of research studies and perspectives by important practitioners in the profession is presented below.

Ciardiello, A. V. (1986). Did you ask a good question today? Alternative cognitive and metacognitive strategies. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 42(3), 210-219.

  • Ciardiello suggested that teachers should encourage students to develop good questions that are a basis for higher level thinking.

Hirsh, S. G., & Borgman, C. L. (1995). Comparing children’s use of browsing and searching on the Science Library Catalog.Proceedings of the American Society of Information Science Annual Meeting, 32, 19-26.

  • This study looked at the search behavior of fifth grade students using an automated catalog designed for children.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (1985). A process approach to library skills instruction. School Library Media Quarterly, 13(1), 35-40.

  • The results of Kuhlthau’s case study revealed that information seekers follow a process approach as they gather and use information. The study found that there were six stages in the library research process: initiating research assignment, selecting topic, exploring information, forming focus, collecting information, preparing to present. The study also found that there was an affective side to the information-seeking process causing students to have feelings of uncertainty and confusion.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user’s perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 361-371.

  • Kuhlthau’s conclusions on the search process result from a series of studies over a 10-year period. Kuhlthau has continued to modify her original process as new studies have provided additional results. Her studies conclude that students engage in the search process in a recursive manner, moving back and forth between stages as their information needs require.

Liebscher, P., & Marchionini, G. G. (1988). Browse and analytical search strategies in a full-text CD-ROM encyclopedia. School Library Media Quarterly, 16(4), 223-233.

  • This study examined both the browse and analytical search strategies. In this study, browse is searching through a linear list while analytical searching is a more complex Boolean search.

Loertscher, D. (1996). All that glitters may not be gold. Emergency Librarian, 24(2), 20-21, 23-25.

  • Loertscher suggests that teachers and school librarians need to provide a greater focus on the strategies involved with using information once students have found information.

McGregor, J. H. (1994). Cognitive processes and the use of information: A qualitative study of higher order thinking skills used in the research process by students in a gifted program. School Library Media Annual, 12, 124-133.

  • This research study focused on the nature of higher order thinking skills used by high school students when they gathered and used information for a research paper. 

McGregor, J. H. (1994). Information seeking and use: Students' thinking and their mental models. Journal of Youth Services in Libraries, 8(1), 69-76.

  • This is a comparison of research studies by Kuhlthau, McGregor, and Pitts that focused on the information retrieval and utilization strategies of high school students. Topics discussed include research methodologies, information seeking, cognitive aspects narrowing the topic, stages in the research process, and thinking processes.

Rankin, V. (1992). Pre-Search: Intellectual access to information.School Library Journal, 38 (3), 168-170.

  • This school librarian described her approach to teaching a presearch process that enabled junior high students to relate a topic to their prior knowledge and then develop research questions.

Rankin, V. (1992). Rx: Task analysis or relief for the major discomforts of research assignments. School Library Journal, 38(11), 29-32.

  • Rankin presented a model that students can use to interpret the information they have gathered. Her stages included: judging suitability, understanding/comprehending, evaluating, and extracting.

Solomon, P. (1993). Children’s information retrieval behavior. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 44(5), 245-264.

  • This research study reported on the retrieval behavior of children using a school library electronic catalog. The results of the study showed overall patterns of children’s behavior relative to information retrieval and strategies and search terms.

Todd, R. (1998). WWW, critical literacies and learning outcomes.Teacher Librarian, 26 (2), 16-21.

  • Todd’s article stressed the need for students to develop critical literacies, the ability to look critically at information, to question, and to challenge ideas. Todd’s focus supported the significance of teaching students to evaluate information.


           Switzer, T. J., Callahan, W. P., & Quinn, L. (1999, March).Technology as facilitator of quality education: An unfinished model. Paper presented at Society of Information Technology and Teacher Education, San Antonio, TX.