Developing Web literacy in collaborative inquiry activities

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Dept. of Theory and Research in Education, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Computers & Education (Impact Factor: 2.56). 04/2009; 52(3):668-680. DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.11.010
Source: DBLP


Although many children are technically skilled in using the Web, their competences to use it in a critical and meaningful way are usually less well developed. In this article, we report on a multiple case study focusing on the possibilities and limitations of collaborative inquiry activities as an appropriate context to acquire Web literacy skills in primary education. Four 5th grade school teachers and their students worked with collaborative inquiry activities on the subject of 'healthy food'. The project was aimed at both the development of Web literacy skills and content knowledge building. Data from a variety of sources were collected: videotaped and written lesson observations, interviews with teachers and stu- dents, teacher diaries, student questionnaires, and student assignments. The teachers appeared to be able to carry out the program to varying degrees. Contextual factors that influenced the realization of the pro- ject's goals and results were the adequacy of the research questions formulated by students, students' inquiry skills, and the teachers' teaching styles. Students' learning results show that it is possible to teach Web literacy skills in the context of collaborative inquiry activities. All classes show knowledge gain with regard to the subject healthy food and all classes but one show knowledge gain with regard to Web lit- eracy skills. Although many students show adequate use of particular Web searching, reading and eval- uating skills after the project, inconsistency, impulsiveness and impatience are also typical of their Web behaviour. In the context of collaborative inquiry activities teachers are challenged to deal with the par- adox that they want their students to be active knowledge builders with help of the Web, whereas the Web seems to invite students to be more or less passive searchers.

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    • "As noted above, students' questions are constrained by their prior knowledge of the research topic; therefore, encouraging students to access and build on their relevant knowledge prior to question generation can support better formation of research questions with a clear goal. Evidence also suggests that middle school students can develop and research workable, appropriately worded driving questions with appropriate instructional supports, such as making explicit connections between question generation and the overall purpose and goals of the inquiry task (Kuiper et al., 2009). Having a deeper sense of the purpose of a research question—to inquire about an aspect of the topic for which they lack adequate knowledge or evidence , to enrich their understanding, or to aid in solving a problem—might help students better formulate and revise their questions. "
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    ABSTRACT: Current educational standards call for students to engage in the skills of research and inquiry, with a focus on gathering evidence from multiple information sources, evaluating the credibility of those sources, and writing an integrated synthesis that cites evidence from those sources. Opportunities to build strong research skills are critical, yet empirical research demonstrates that students from Grades K–16 struggle with inquiry tasks, particularly in online environments. There is a need to create models that will support teachers in developing students' research skills and can be used to develop reliable and valid assessments of such skills while aligning with standards. Under the CBAL™ research initiative, we have developed a model of conducting research and inquiry as a key literacy practice in the English language arts (ELA). In this paper, we draw on literature from the cognitive and learning sciences—including work in discourse processing, science education, educational technology, and information literacy—to provide the theoretical background for this key practice. We identify a set of activities and skills that are critical for participating in research; each skill is accompanied by a set of provisional learning progressions, which outlines tentative predictions about the qualitative changes in a skill that develop over time with appropriate instruction. These learning progressions and their relation to the key practice can be leveraged in the design of cognitively based assessments of research and inquiry that are sensitive to students' developmental level. We conclude, with an example design for such an assessment to illustrate how key practices and learning progressions can be integrated to support measurement of research and inquiry skills.
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    • "Regarding scientific researches about the design and implementation of instruments for the assessment about the level obtained in information literacy, appear a lot of studies [6] [22] [23] [27] [39] [45], although it is not the best way. They are researches which have been elaborated and applied in a scale type "ad hoc" without previous validation or validated scales but from the autoperception of the own competence [36] [42]. "

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    • "Constructivism suggests learning is experiential in that people create knowledge and draw meaning from that knowledge through their own experiences and ideas (Dewey, 1933/1998; Kolb, 1975). From a constructivist perspective, learning is both cultural and social involving social interaction and collaboration with learning peers, as well as interaction with more knowledgeable individuals within society (Biggs, 1996; Kuiper, Volman, & Terwel, 2009; Pontecorvo, 2007). For this experiential learning process to be sustained and developed, Vygotsky (1978) argues that learners will progress from one educational task to more challenging tasks only through improved self confidence in their ability to be successful in various problem-solving experiences. "
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