This study reported an investigation of eighth graders' (14-year-olds) web searching strategies and outcomes, and then analyzed their correlations with students' web experiences, epistemological beliefs, and the nature of searching tasks. Eighty-seven eighth graders were asked to fill out a questionnaire for probing epistemological beliefs (from positivist to constructivist-oriented views) and finished three different types of searching tasks. Their searching process was recorded by screen capture software and answers were reviewed by two expert teachers based on their accuracy, richness and soundness. Five quantitative indicators were used to assess students' searching strategies: number of keywords, visited pages, maximum depth of exploration, refinement of keyword, and number of words used in the first keyword. The main findings derived from this study suggested that, students with richer web experiences could find more correct answers in "close-ended" search tasks. In addition, students with better metacognitive skills such as keyword refinement tended to achieve more successful searching outcomes in such tasks. However, in "open-ended" tasks, where questions were less certain and answers were more elaborated, students who had more advanced epistemological beliefs, concurring with a constructivist view, had better searching outcomes in terms of their soundness and richness. This study has concluded that epistemological beliefs play an influential role in open-ended Internet learning environments.
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