Relevance and Information Processing in the Humanities

By Simon Ryan.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Ubiquitous Learning theories use the word ‘context’ in a number of ways. This paper examines ideas of context in relation to the issue of relevance. Relevance becomes a key concept when information is endless. Yet, it is a difficult concept to come to grips with as relevance determination is often automatic and unconscious. One approach to relevance emerges from information retrieval studies, which examine how searches for information are executed. A second comes out of a particular linguistic focus called Relevance Theory which has posited an effort vs. benefit dynamic in the processing of language. When faced with contextual material, novice literary critics will make superficial, topical relevance determinations which are not those that necessarily lead to productive readings of the primary work. The provision of knowledge by u-learning systems may make the process of relevance recognition more economical but at the cost of some of the key skills of a literary critic.

Keywords: Relevance, Humanities, Literature

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.55-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 719.934KB).

Dr. Simon Ryan

Associate Professor, Arts and Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am an Associate Professor who lectures in Literature at the Australian Catholic University. I am the author of The Cartographic Eye: How Explorers Saw Australia. My interests include the literature of British exploration and colonialism. More recently I have become interested in teaching and learning issues in the Humanities, completing a Masters in Higher Education in which I examined the role of relevance recognition in the humanities.