Say it with Emojis: Co-designing Relevance Cues for Searching in the Classroom

Mohammad Aliannejadi, Monica Landoni, Theo Huibers, Emiliana Murgia, and Maria Soledad Pera. 2020. “Say it with Emojis: Co-designing Relevance Cues for Searching in the Classroom”. Short paper in Proceedings of the 2020 Joint Conference of the Information Retrieval Communities in Europe (CIRCLE ‘20). ACM, 5 pp.


Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) include snippets of retrieved resources as a means to help searchers select the ones that satisfy their information needs. This way, result relevance can be determined by scanning through snippets, an exercise that requires experience with reading, understanding, and assessing the value of a document. These are skills that primary school children are still developing and thus are not yet proficient with. As web search tools are essential to support children learning at school and home, we explore how to help young searchers in making informed relevance assessments while conducting searches in a classroom. In this paper, we describe a collaborative design exercise involving primary school children as co-designers: we asked them to examine interfaces with combinations of different emojis to help them assess the usefulness of results in SERP–a crucial factor to determine relevance for the classroom. This activity made our child experts engage with the design exercise while enabling us to collect their judgments so as to get a better sense of the user requirements for this age group. Here we discuss the main design issues emerging from the analysis of children’s preferences, the rationale behind them, comments and concerns raised, and alternative proposals children sketched.