|University of Sheffield
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Studies of children (ages 4-11) searching in primary schools have either been of a work task that is a research assignment or of a search task that has been designed by the researcher. There is little understanding of how the environment is influencing the search activity and the full range of search tasks that children conduct in schools.Research was conducted in two phases. In phase one, using maximal variation sampling ten teachers from a single primary school were asked to describe what children in their class had searched for in the prior academic year. The collected data was analysed using two techniques. Firstly, thematic analysis was used to identify what is shaping childrens search. Secondly, a framework initially developed from a review of the literature was used to identify and describe the search tasks. In phase two, using observation data that had previously been collected for other research projects, the phase one analysis was verified and extended. Findings confirm that the primary school environment influences how children search for information and what they use the information for. It was found that children are conducting a greater range of search tasks than has been currently accounted for. Ten different uses of information were identified. As well as this both children and teachers are doers and originators of search tasks, and therefore search can also be considered a group based activity.This thesis contributes to a greater understanding of information use environments. In particular, new insights into the range and variety of search activities within primary schools are presented. Furthermore, a novel framework that can be used to describe search tasks within an information use environment is developed.