Measured steps: an experimental study in multimodal literacy and learning. Cordes
Measured Steps: An
Exploratory Study in Multimodal Literacy and
Western Illinois University
Net Gen Students-Background
Special Sheltered Confident Team-Oriented
Achieving Pressured Conventional
Millennials Go To College (2003) by Neil Howe and William Strauss.
The Case Population
64% Soft Science
46% Hard Science
9% Web Page / Video
The Project Task
Develop a research question and develop a presentation web site of 6
task oriented pages using multiple content types and tools.
Areas of Inquiry
Unit of Analysis -Negative critical
incidents that occurred in
individual subject cases during
3 Areas of Inquiry explored with
dependent variables for 13
• Tasks performed to develop
the project web pages (6)
• Mediating areas of the activity
system as outlined in Activity
• Stages of Polya’s problem
solving process (4)
260 Log Entries
159 Critical Incidents
Coded using SPSS for Windows (Version 18.0)
Log posting analyzed for negative critical incidents
Coded incidents as dichotomous entries according to
corresponding category of each area of inquiry
The journal article was the hardest thing that I had with
my project. For instance, everything I wrote inside the
boxes kept getting erased. Journal Article, Execution,
Tools and Artifacts
Activity System Area Incidents
Frequency 147 9 23 179
Percent 82.1% 5.0% 12.9% 100%
Gender Related Incidents-Women in the study
accounted for 112 of 179 critical incidents
Male Female Total
Frequency 67 112
Percent 37.4% 62.6%
Constant Comparative Method used to ….
• Compare incidents
• Identify concepts
• Identify properties
• Integrate categories
From the comparison and integration of
categorical data, 5 distinct themes emerged
regarding critical incidents across the
information work process…
• Developing Presentation Structures
• Developing Information Seeking Strategies
• Working Between Separate Web Sites
• Social and Environmental Impositions
• A Priori Skill Impact
Developing Presentation Structures
Frequent problems were encountered with
process related actions for creating pages and
navigation links, inserting and formatting text
and images, and displaying objects.
• Everything I wrote inside the boxes kept getting
erased. Then I found the save button.
• I sat there for like a minute with my curser over
the menu name waiting for it to pop down...
NOPE! You have to go over to the little down
Information Seeking Strategies
Student descriptions frequently noted the need to
revise strategies to accommodate the different search
tools using You Tube, Library Thing, Google Image
Search, and the Academic Search Premier database
• All the various sites and applications want a different
phrase in the search bar, so I basically have to find out
what is the best phrasing and combination of words.
• I had to revise my search a couple of times like with most
other applications and search for a while to find exactly
what I wanted.
• The main problems I had was the videos wasn't putting
them on my page, it was being able to find them in the first
place. I had to use a variety of different search terms to find
what I did.
Working Between Web Sites
Many incidents were related to the execution of
actions working between external web sites, such
• Finding the control to upload or tag content.
• Breakdowns when connecting separate websites to
the Google site to present information.
• When I posted them into the bookmark on delicious,
sometimes the title would come out weird too, and I'd have
to change it slightly to better reflect the site that it came
• I tried to insert the books but they were not showing up. I
had to email the teacher about that, the reason was I did not
put my user name.
Social and Environmental Impositions
A few critical incidents occurred in the area of
rules and regulations, or the computing
environment. These typically involved …
• Copyright issues
• Evaluating content for credibility
• Inappropriate content for the classroom
• Breakdowns in hardware, software, or internet
• I used the class examples again to see how to go about citing
• I had to be careful with YouTube because a lot of the videos
are just really random or have zero creditability.
• With a topic like piercings and tattoos there was the
potential for images that would not be appropriate for class.
• I was working on my page and all of a sudden all of the
internet pages shut down.
A Priori Skill Impact
Some students noted lack of experience using
technology which created tension regarding the
project work. After working through the project, some
reflections displayed a sense of increased
empowerment and efficacy.
• I am technologically challenged. This is a great learning
experience, but I am getting so tired that I am going to call
someone who knows what they are doing.
• This project was all about trial and error, and a little more
error! I was really proud of myself though. When it comes
to computers I see if someone can do it for me or give up.
• The Net irritates me!
Understanding dynamics of student technology
use key to academic success
Students have varied levels of skills and
Ability to transfer skills between tools key to
execution of tasks
Ability to understand dynamics of digital
Subjects more adept at accessing information
than developing and presenting it
Wide range of access modes suggests instruction
in the organization of information to facilitate
Measured (next) Steps
Implement Hypothesis Testing
Examine the impact of Experience
Examine the impact of search tool variation
on the information seeking process
Define and examine the role of complexity in
presenting information using online tools