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Dyslexia and its impact on Information Retrieval – initial studies in the area

  • Speaker: Dr Andrew MacFarlane, City University London.
  • Date: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 from 13:00 to 14:00
  • Location: Room 151, Birkbeck Main Building

A key aspect of searching is the ability of users to absorb information from documents read in order to resolve their task. One group of users who have problems with reading are dyslexic users, who due to underlying cognitive impairments in phonological processing and working memory, tend to read more slowly and make reading errors. The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of the dyslexia cognitive profile on information searching. Two studies were undertaken, a pilot study and a small study to further investigate various issues apparent from the pilot study. In the small study, searches were logged for 8 dyslexic and 8 non-dyslexic (control) university students, in order to examine the differences in searching behaviour between the two groups. A set of literacy and phonological working memory tasks were also completed, in order to investigate the relationship between these cognitive variables and searching behaviour. Results show that there is a significant difference between the two groups on the number of documents being judged irrelevant, and that this cannot be explained by a topic effect. Instead, the number of documents judged irrelevant is significantly correlated with a measure of working memory. This key result provides the research community the first real insight into impact of impaired working memory on information searching.

Bio: Andy is a Reader in the Department of Computer Science at City University London, and is a member of the Centre for HCI Design. His research focuses on a number of area in information retrieval including cognitive disabilities in information retrieval (dyslexia in particular), image retrieval, social media search and mobile search. He a member of the BCS Information Retrieval (IRSG) specialist group.