AmyW Inquiry Project1


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AmyW Inquiry Project1

  1. 1. Inquiry Project 1 CEP 806 Fall 2007 Amy Williams Michigan State University
  2. 2. Ideas, Predictions, & Explanations <ul><li>Motivating issues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do students know how to pick out useful keywords when presented with a topic? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do students decide which link to visit when presented with results from a keyword search? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do students evaluate the usefulness and reliability of a website? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Ideas, Predictions, & Explanations: How is this meaningful? <ul><li>Before I can begin to change the minds of my students, I must first understand what occupies their thoughts. Lee Shulman put it clearly when he said, “ t he inside beliefs and understandings must come out, and only then can something outside get in (1999). ” </li></ul><ul><li>I approached this inquiry project as a preassessment. In my career, I have taken my students to the computer lab many times to use the internet for research, assuming that they already knew how to perform a succesful search. After reading the required articles, I was not sure that students understood how to “read” the web. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Ideas, Predictions, & Explanations: How is this meaningful? <ul><li>Bruce’s idea that “people living physically side by side live within different ages of cyberspace” is proved within the four walls of my classroom (1998). </li></ul><ul><li>During the first week of school, I surveyed my students on their computer use and accessibility. </li></ul><ul><li>While a lot of my students have experience with a computer, more than I expected do not have a computer at home, and those that do have a computer do not all have reliable internet access. </li></ul><ul><li>I encountered one child who had never used a computer. </li></ul><ul><li>My students are very different and just because we as a society are becoming more technologically advanced, I cannot assume that all students possess the same technological skills. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Ideas, Predictions, & Explanations <ul><li>Predictions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keywords: Because the title of the BrainPop movie is symbiosis, I expect that this will be the most popular keyword chosen. Three forms of symbiosis are discussed: mutualism, parasitism, and commensalism. I believe that some students would combine one or more of these words with symbiosis in their search. Examples such as Egyptian Plovers & crocodiles, humans & bacteria, humans & mosquitoes, and mosquitoes/parasites/malaria are given to emphasize the three forms of symbiosis. I anticipate that these would be the least searched keywords. I do not predict that students will choose to include “.edu” as a keyword, even though it could be helpful when returning relevant results. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Ideas, Predictions, & Explanations <ul><li>Predictions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search Engines: Due to Google’s exposure, I believe that most students would choose this as their search engine. I think that would be the second most popular because it’s name leads you to believe that it will have the answers you’re looking for. I predict that Alta-Vista will be the least popular as sixth graders would have trouble spelling and pronouncing it. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Ideas, Predictions, & Explanations <ul><li>Predictions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Usefulness & Reliability: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I expect there to be differences between the sites that they choose as useful and reliable. I predict that students will choose an entry that’s more kid-friendly as useful. The more pictures, games, & definitions provided, the higher it will rank as useful. I believe that they will determine a site to be reliable if there is an absence of distracting advertisements, has the word “science” or “symbiosis” in the web address, and includes definitions & examples. I believe that the harder it is to read (the more “big” words it has), the more reliable they will think it is. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Inquiry Plan Description <ul><li>1) Students will watch and take notes on the BrainPop movie: Symbiosis. Students will be told that they will be performing an Internet search to learn more about this topic and should be thinking about keywords as they watch. 2) On a sheet of paper, students will be asked to record the keyword or keywords that they will be using. I will provide them the choice of using one or more words. They will explain their choice. 3) Students will then be asked to choose from the following three search engines:,, and They will explain their choice. 4) Students will pick two entries from their search results from which to gather their information. They will explain their choice. 5) Students will then be asked to decide which of the two entries provided the most useful information. They will explain how they defined “useful.” Was it readability? Pictures? Definitions? Links to other resources? Etc. 6) Students will then be asked to decide which of the two entries provided the most reliable information. They will explain how they defined “reliable.” 7) I will collect and record their data. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Inquiry Plan Description <ul><li>The inquiry plan I designed was fashioned around the agnostic approach to reading the web, unknowingly, as this is the way I expect sixth graders to read the web. </li></ul><ul><li>I was interested in finding which search engine students would select, knowing that & would provide more relevant results as I had done my own search with my keyword predictions. </li></ul><ul><li>When I asked students to determine which sites they considered useful & reliable, I was asking them to “apply a scheme for [evaluation], expressed as a series of questions” (Bruce, 2001). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Inquiry Plan Description <ul><li>Student Worksheet </li></ul>
  11. 11. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Majority of students chose Google, which supports my prediction; however, I did not anticipate that the discrepancy between the choices would be so high. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Interesting Patterns
  13. 13. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Why Google? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The choice of search engine or search directory is a major factor in how effective a search may be.” – Bruce, Searching the Web: New Domains for Inquiry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intriguing that so many students made Google their choice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Did their elementary teachers expose them to other search engines that I did not provide as a choice? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Or, has Google become so popular that students are mistaking popularity for effectiveness? Students who chose Google did receive a higher number of results, which many explained was their reasoning for their choice. On the other hand, we should determine how many of those results were highly relevant to their keyword search and fulfilled the needs of the searcher. How many were commercialized content? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>“ Improved search engines make [finding information] possible, especially when the user understands how the search engines work and puts some effort into selecting a good set of keywords.” – Bruce, Searching the Web: New Domains for Inquiry </li></ul>
  15. 15. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Once again, my predictions proved to be true. All students searched using a keyword or keywords that had been presented as a bold word in the BrainPop movie they viewed. </li></ul><ul><li>This leads me to believe that students currently have the skills to select a good keyword to move their search forward. However, students did not provide responses that show an understanding of how search engines work. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>This child’s response was reflective of the majority of students’ responses. The main reason why they chose Google was because of familiarity, not because it was the best tool for the job. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Several students chose Google because they expected it to provide them with more than enough results. These children adhere to the adage that “more is better.” What they did not consider is that much time may be lost by sorting through the multitude of results. While I monitored the classroom I noticed that even though these students thought more results would be helpful, only 4% of my students looked at results that were on the third page or higher. </li></ul><ul><li>Many of my students also subscribed to the notion that Google provided them with “answers,” not lists of websites where they might find the answers to their questions. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>A few students provided responses similar to this. Here the student is making the assumption that because Google is a popular website, it must carry some authority that users can rely upon. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>In the fourth step of the students’ inquiry, they were to select two sites to visit only by reading the short description that appeared by the site’s link on the search engine’s results page. </li></ul><ul><li>There was no coherent pattern in their choices of sites, but several students explained that they picked a site because it either </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a) sounded like what they were looking for, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>b) sounded cool, or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>c) sounded interesting. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>It was interesting to see that many students consider Wikipedia to be an encyclopedia in the same sense that Encyclopedia Britannica is. When I further questioned this student, he did not know that it was an encyclopedia that could be edited by wikipedian. </li></ul><ul><li>Another student that I interviewed chose Wikipedia as one of her sites. She did know that it could be edited but stated, “Well, I know adults write it so that’s why I use it.” </li></ul>
  21. 21. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>The most frequent reason for selecting a site was because students saw their keyword or keywords in the description. The more times it appeared, the more likely they were to select that site. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Although this was my only student that actually provided this reason in writing, my observations confirm that over half of my students chose the first results that appeared on the page—many of which happened to be the “sponsored links.” </li></ul><ul><li>I asked this student why he always picked the sponsored links. He replied, “The sports store sponsors my hockey team and they know a lot about hockey so the sponsored links must know a lot about my word.” </li></ul>
  23. 23. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Although the student did not know it, he was a victim to the approximately 83% of commercial content available on the web, of which Bruce recommends should be avoided in schools (1999). </li></ul><ul><li>Unfortunately, I gave my students the choice to use search engines that generate ads within their results. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Usefulness vs. Reliability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students were asked to choose between their two sites as to which was more useful and which was more reliable. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>84% of the students determined that the same site was both reliable and useful, thus refuting my prediction. </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Interesting Patterns
  26. 26. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>This student exemplifies the majority of her classmates’ responses. These students decided that a site was both useful & reliable if it provided a wealth of factual information (or what sounded like it) and was on the topic of the word(s) they searched for. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>This student chose two different sites as useful and reliable. Like many of her classmates, she thought that pictures and examples were the most useful. </li></ul><ul><li>In terms of reliability, while most students wanted more information, she also included that authorship should be considered when evaluating a website-something which very few of her classmates considered and which Johns Hopkins University highly recommends in their article, Evaluating Information Found on the Internet . </li></ul>
  28. 28. Interesting Patterns <ul><li>Authorship was a consideration for this student, but in a very naïve sense. This was another student who assumed that only experts contributed to Wikipedia. The need for a lesson on authorship was confirmed. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Interesting Patterns
  30. 30. Interesting Patterns
  31. 31. Emergent ideas, questions, and lessons <ul><li>During our blog discussion, Brent said, “I also have noticed that my students think the are actually getting their info from Google, not the outside sites that it takes you to. In other words, they think Google is like an encyclopedia, not simply a tool to get you to other sites easily.” </li></ul><ul><li>Many of my students also subscribed to the notion that Google provided them with “answers” as shown in their reasons for selecting Google. </li></ul><ul><li>This leads me to believe that students do not understand how a search engine works. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Emergent ideas, questions, and lessons <ul><li>By approaching this project as a preassessment, from what I’ve seen, my students need more instruction in the following areas: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is a search engine & how it does it work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to perform an effective search including the use of Boolean expressions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to evaluate websites with a strong emphasis on authorship and accuracy; identifying bias could be included but only if the bias was overt as my 6th graders in the past have had trouble identifying subtle biases </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Emergent ideas, questions, and lessons <ul><li>Bruce makes it appear that dialectical reading is the best approach to reading the web (2001). From the observations I’ve made during this research project, I’ve noticed that my students do not possess the skills to read the web well using an agnostic approach. Nevertheless, this is the way that I have expected them to read in the past as they were gathering information for a project within our science class. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Emergent ideas, questions, and lessons <ul><li>I believe that instruction in the skill of dialectical reading is more fitting in a technology class or because of the new requirements of digital literacy, in a language arts or reading class. </li></ul><ul><li>I feel constrained by the state standards and benchmarks and do not feel as if I have the time to devote to teaching dialectical reading, nor do I possess the skills to read dialectically now. </li></ul><ul><li>The readings only propose one possible lesson where students find information and then find its contradiction. This can’t possibly teach one to be open to other cultures, possess a willingness to expose alternatives, and an understanding of the works as a whole (Bruce, 2001). I would like to know how Bruce proposes we instill this skill upon our students and ourselves. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Resources <ul><li>Bruce, B. Credibility of the Web:Why We Need Dialectical Reading. February 2001. </li></ul><ul><li>Bruce, B. Twenty-First Century Literacy. 1998. </li></ul><ul><li>Bruce, B. C. Searching the web: New domains for inquiry. (1999-2000, December/January). </li></ul><ul><li> “Symbiosis: Organisms Working Together.” Retrieved September 10, 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Johns Hopkins University Libraries: Evaluating Information Found on the Internet. Retrieved September 6, 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Shulman, L. (1999). What is learning and what does it look like when it doesn’ t go well. This article was originally published as Taking Learning Seriously in Change, July/August 1999. Volume 31, Number 4. Pages 10-17. </li></ul>