An exploration of search-as-learning in digital archives of an online museum

I. Chin Wu*, Pertti Vakkari, Bo Xian Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Recent studies on search-as-learning (SAL) have recognized the significance of identifying users' learning needs as they evolve for acquiring knowledge during the search process. In this study, the authors clarify the extent to which search behaviors reflect the learning outcome and foster the users' knowledge of Chinese art. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted an exploratory-sequential mixed-methods approach using simulated work task situations to collect empirical data. The authors used two types of simulated learning tasks for topics related to painting and antique knowledge. A lot of 25 users participated in this evaluation of digital archives (DAs) at the National Palace Museum (NPM) in Taiwan. For each set of topics, a close-ended task related to lower-level learning goals and an open-ended task related to higher-level learning goals. Findings: The learning criteria reflect changes in the users' knowledge structure, revealing the SAL process. Furthermore, users achieved better task performance on the higher-level creative-learning task, which suggests that they met more learning criteria, exhibited a greater variety of search patterns when exploring the topics via interaction with various sources. Finally, there is a close relationship between creative-learning tasks, prior knowledge, keyword search actions and learning outcomes. Originality/value: The authors discuss implications with respect to the design of DAs in practice and contributions to the body of SAL knowledge in DAs of online museums. For future reference, the authors provide implications for the development of learning measures from the perspective of user search behavior with associated learning outcomes in the context of DAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-319
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Feb 22


  • Chinese art and crafts
  • Digital archives search system
  • Learning criteria
  • Level of learning tasks
  • Online museum
  • Search as learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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