Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Teacher's Role as the Facilitator of Collaborative Learning in Information Literacy Assignments #ecil2013

Eero Sormunen presented on Teacher's Role as the Facilitator of Collaborative Learning in Information Literacy Assignments (co-authored with Tuulikki Alamettälä and Jannica Heinström) at the European Conference on Information Literacy this afternoon. This was reporting on part of a study in upper high schools in Finland (students aged 16-17 years). I have blogged about some other findings from this study (for example, how the students work with wikipedia in their studies) but in this paper the focus was on the teacher's role.

The presenter noted that group work source-based writing assignments are popular for information literacy teaching. However, an issue is: how are these interventions designed and taught? In some cases the focus is on the end product (e.g. a report) rather than the process of aquiring, selecting and using the information. The researchers were investigating differences in teaching and assessment in two different source-based writing assignments (one in a history class, one in a Literature class), questioning whether differences in learning were associated with different approaches to teaching. In both cases, groups of students had to produce a wiki entry on a topic.

Data was collected through questionnaires, interviews with students and teachers, observation, and documents such as class instructions. Students were asked to state their level of learning in the stated learning outcomes for the 2 classe. The literature students said that they understood better the differences between wiki and other sources, the nature of wikipedia and how to refer to sources, and on average rated the learning experience higher.

Comparing the two classes' research design, there were differences in publishing forum (Wikipedia itself for Literature), topic scope (narrower for Literature students), preliminary activities (the Literature students did an essay on the chosen novel before the wiki exercise), modeling the end-topic (the Literature students had explicit teaching about wiki structure) and time allocated (5 weeks for Literature, vs 2 weeks for history). Looking at interactivity, there were more teacher initiated and student initiated interactions (face to face and virtually) in the Literature class.
Overall it was noted that learning experiences were quite weak in most areas of IL, with the strongest learning experiences in the areas were teachers intervened, where the students made most effort, and which were mosdt clearly planned in teaching.
There is more information on the whole project at
Photo by Sheila Webber: You don't seem to have any food for me, cat, Istanbul, October 2013

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