CCE Theses and Dissertations

A Descriptive Study of the Internet Search Behaviors Employed by Deaf Adolescents Completing Fact-Based Search Tasks

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman


This exploratory study was designed to describe the Internet search behaviors of deaf adolescents using Internet search engines to complete fact-based search tasks. Because of the limited English reading skills of deaf students, and the complexity of Internet search results, effective Internet searching can be a challenging task. The study examined such Internet search behaviors of high school deaf students as query formation, query modification, Web site identification, and Web site selection. Supervisors from four regional day school programs for the deaf from throughout Texas allowed students to participate in the study. The study, consisting of two fact based search tasks, occurred in the individual computer networks of each of the regional day school programs for the deaf. As students conducted two search tasks they completed a task analysis of the Web sites selected, and the reasons for their selections. Once all of the searches were completed, the researcher determined if there were any commonalities in the search behaviors of the research participants. The research also identified the processes used by deaf students to compensate for limited English reading abilities while navigating Internet search engines results that were typically written well above the average reading level of deaf students. Once students completed the search tasks, each of the task analyses were evaluated to ascertain if there were any commonalities among student behaviors while online completing the search tasks. The results demonstrated deaf high school students were unable to initiate, conduct, analyze, or validate effective Internet searches in response to fact-based search tasks.

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