Searching, Learning, and Subtopic Ordering: A Simulation-based Analysis

26 Jan 2022  ·  Arthur Câmara, David Maxwell, Claudia Hauff ·

Complex search tasks - such as those from the Search as Learning (SAL) domain - often result in users developing an information need composed of several aspects. However, current models of searcher behaviour assume that individuals have an atomic need, regardless of the task. While these models generally work well for simpler informational needs, we argue that searcher models need to be developed further to allow for the decomposition of a complex search task into multiple aspects. As no searcher model yet exists that considers both aspects and the SAL domain, we propose, by augmenting the Complex Searcher Model (CSM), the Subtopic Aware Complex Searcher Model (SACSM) - modelling aspects as subtopics to the user's need. We then instantiate several agents (i.e., simulated users), with different subtopic selection strategies, which can be considered as different prototypical learning strategies (e.g., should I deeply examine one subtopic at a time, or shallowly cover several subtopics?). Finally, we report on the first large-scale simulated analysis of user behaviours in the SAL domain. Results demonstrate that the SACSM, under certain conditions, simulates user behaviours accurately.

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