In an information society, all people should have the right to information which meets a wide range of personal needs (American Library Association ALA, 1989). People must be information literate, and to do so, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and know how to locate, evaluate, and use it effectively (ALA, 1989). Further, Doyle (1994) and Moore (1995) stated that an information literate person combines the following qualities and abilities: formulates questions based on the need; identifies potential and appropriate sources of information; develops successful search strategies; evaluates information, and uses critical thinking in problem solving. Thus, problem-solving skill has now become paramount and is recognized as basic in today's information society. The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, and how to evaluate its accuracy. Also, problem solving requires high-level reasoning skills (Gick, 1986). Thus, today we need to model instructional supports for students (Johanssen, 1997). As literature suggests, students' cognitive strategies, such as information processing skills, determine successful information acquisition from the WWW (Hill & Hannafin, 1997; Hill, 1999). Lin (2001) also suggested that teachers develop instructional methods to help students gain metacognitive skills in organizing, monitoring, evaluating, and regulating their thinking processes. There is no doubt that "Big 6 skills" is one of the information problem-solving approaches for adolescent students. This approach, developed by Eisenberg and Berkowitz (1999a, 1999b), is an information literacy curriculum, an information problem-solving process, and a set of skills which provide a strategy for effectively meeting information needs. It can be used whenever students are in a situation, academic or personal, which requires information to solve a problem, make a decision or complete a task (Big 6, 2002).
The Big 6 approach to the information-solving process defines the task (step one), sets strategies for seeking information (step two), locates and accesses the information itself (step three), extracts relevant information (step four), presents the results (step five), and seeks reaction to the work done (step six). This framework is in part similar to Hill's (1999) conceptual view for understanding information searching in an open-ended information system.
Although some researchers have tried to explore students' views of the computer attitude (e.g., Tsai, Lin, & Tsai, 2001; Tsai, 2004) or their computer literacy in the past decade, this study tried to develop a questionnaire to help understand early adolescents' (fifth and sixth graders) information problem-solving skills. Research also reveals that early adolescents lack competence to develop their own information-searching skills and judge their problem-solving process (e.g., Tsai & Tsai, 2003; Chang & Weng, 2005). In administering the questionnaire, grade, gender, and library-use experience differences were analyzed. Further, since the sample included different school districts (urban/ rural), a comparison of these students was undertaken.
The initial sample of this study consisted of 1,550 Taiwanese early adolescent fifth and sixth graders. Participants were selected from three major demographic areas--Northern, Central, and Southern Taiwan. This may not be considered a national sample, but those selected were from divergent academic and demographic areas, and belonged to various socioeconomic backgrounds. Students' nonresponses, unintentional omissions or unidentifiable marks on some items of the survey, were processed as "missing data." After excluding them, 1,539 valid questionnaires were available for statistical analysis--796 boys (51.4%) and 743 girls (48.1%); 772 were sixth graders, and 762 were fifth graders, 58% were from urban and 42% were from rural school districts. …