Purpose – To apply the concept of ill‐structured problems and learner expertise to the reference consultation. Design/methodology/approach – Research literature from the 1960s forward regarding ill‐structured problems and learner expertise in a variety of disciplines was surveyed. Resulting characteristics of expert problem‐solvers were used to suggest applications to the reference consultation. Findings – Librarians can structure the reference consultation to better meet students' needs as information problem solvers. Research limitations/implications – The method described appears to have sound basis in research into cognitive development and reflective thinking, but it has not been empirically demonstrated in the reference environment. Empirical research with reference librarians and students would be a logical next step. Originality/value – Research into ill‐structured problems and learner expertise is ongoing in information retrieval systems. It has not been applied to the reference consultation.
Reference Services Review – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 1, 2006
Keywords: Cognition; Academic libraries; Library instruction; Information literacy; Skills; Reference services
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