Children's information-search strategies: Operationalizing efficiency and effectiveness

Georgina Török, Oana Stanciu, Azzurra Ruggeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on the development of active learning and information search behaviors has been growing rapidly, drawing interest from multiple disciplines, from developmental psychology to cognitive science and artificial intelligence. These different perspectives can open pathways to understanding how preschool-age children grow into adaptive and efficient active learners. However, the lack of a shared vocabulary, operationalizations, and research paradigms has led to limited cross-talk and some conflicting findings. In this article, we advocate for using a shared operationalization of a “good” information-search strategy, as a function of its efficiency and effectiveness within a given ecology, based on the information-theoretic measure of expected information gain and observed behavioral outcomes, respectively. We also discuss factors that should be considered when designing experiments that examine children's information-search competence, specifically, using formal models as performance benchmarks and accounting for children's prior knowledge, assumptions, and self-generated goals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Development Perspectives
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • development of search efficiency
  • information gain
  • information search


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