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Information discernment: from theory to practice - Walton, Barker, Turner & Pointon


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Presented at LILAC 2017

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Information discernment: from theory to practice - Walton, Barker, Turner & Pointon

  1. 1. Information discernment: from theory to practice Dr Geoff Walton, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University Dr Jamie Barker, Associate Professor, Staffordshire University Dr Martin Turner, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire University Matt Pointon, Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University
  2. 2. The plan • The theory – Educational research foundations • Higher education • Schools (EPQ – FE/6th form) • The practice • Practice beyond HE – Our experiment – Public engagement
  3. 3. Educational Research foundations• Old definition – ‘the ability to use higher order thinking skills in order to make sound and complex judgments regarding a range of text-based materials’ (Walton & Hepworth, 2013, p55) • New definition • The ways in which people make judgements about information (Walton, 2017 forthcoming) • Furthermore, information discernment can be disaggregated into levels of increasing complexity which change depending on context (Hepworth & Walton, 2009; Walton, 2013)
  4. 4. Levels of information discernment ladder1. Don’t know or don’t care how to be discerning, “When you first go on a website you don’t read all the information.” 1 2 3 4 5 2. Expressed as level of detail or effort, “I have learnt to go into more detail with my work.” 3. Expressed by true/false statements, “see whether it is from a big company where it’s very probably going to be factual or […] someone’s own personal website […] that’s less formal” 4. Expressed as making judgements, “[The e- learning training] helped [me] decide which resources were reliable and useful and why.” 5. Expressed as the relative value of criteria for a given purpose, “Some of them initially are important like reliability… obviously if you are going to reference something in an essay etc. you need to know that the source is reliable.” We called these higher levels 4 and 5 a ‘cognitive questioning state’
  5. 5. Online discourse • Different context and task – slightly different result • When students commented on fellow students written work as part of a peer review exercise there was a noticeable difference in the most sophisticated responses
  6. 6. Online peer review • “You have used references to support your points, […] It would have been nice for you to include 2 other themes also, such as the social benefits and psychological benefits to show your knowledge, and add in the negatives to give an argument!” • “You have looked at both sides by including refernces (sic) that oppose each other such as the reference that stated there was no change and then another reference that stated there was a change”.
  7. 7. 6th form/FE level • We devised a workshop for students where they completed an activity to enable them to think about evaluating information, we found that students were…
  8. 8. Student views • Noticing things like citations, now meant that they now avoided ‘unreliable’ information • One learner mused that they now realized that not everything was ‘true’ and that this made them look more closely at what they used • ‘Never thought about looking at a web page and analysing it in that way before’
  9. 9. Teacher remarks • The school librarian: – since the delivery of the workshop, students no longer, ‘passively accept what they see’. • All staff interviewed: – The most notable and consistent remark -students had adopted a ‘questioning’ state when engaging with information sources for example, – ‘It got them [students] to question what their source was, where it was from, how credible was the source’ – and students were, ’questioning the credibility of the sources they used’ – Behaviour students had not exhibited before the workshop
  10. 10. Implications for the profession? • People’s ability to make judgements can be increased with the right intervention • We have a suggested intervention to facilitate this – An activity with accompanying assessment which focusses on an issue or problem where students are directed to consider both (or indeed all) sides of the argument – A draft rubric for marking progress – see handout.
  11. 11. Experimental context • Information discernment clearly enables students to get a better grade and contribute to coping in an academic context and reduces uncertainty (even stress arguably) • Could we apply this more widely and say that it would assist in an increase in coping with information (or mis-information) in a wider context? • Could this increased coping actually have a physiological dimension?
  12. 12. The experiment • We will be using Finopres/Finometer and eye-tracking hardware and software to measure participants reactions to a task involving viewing information and completing a word search • Working hypothesis • Individuals who exhibit high levels of information discernment will experience lower levels of stress when exposed to mis-information than those who have low levels of information discernment This ability to make sense of information may have a protective effect on well-being
  13. 13. Process (1) Accumulated time Process Pre N/A Screening – for religiosity, beliefs, chronic stress, mental health. This is done online prior to the lab. 1 Start Participant (P) meets confederate (Confed) outside lab. Can interact. Confed should be neutrally dressed. 2 5 mins P and confed pick from a hat. P always gets selected for room A. Confed in room B. P feels that this allocation is random. 3 15 mins P sits down, we attach Finometer. Start recording CV reactivity. P completes pre-questionnaires. 4 25 mins Calibrate eye-tracking to laptop. Then P has 5 minutes to read the information from iPad while we collect eye-tracking and CV data. 5 30 mins 5 minutes of CV baseline data collection.
  14. 14. Process (2) Accu mula ted time Process 6 35 mins P is then shown the confed’s religiosity answers (faked) – trying to communicate to the P that the confed is (a) devoutly religious (high scores) or (b) not religious (low scores). P told that they are to help confed complete a word search to win a prize. P told that the confed has got half way through the task, and they need to complete it. Then they think about the task for 2 minutes. Then they complete some self-reports. 7 40 mins P starts word-search. Their visual gaze is monitored during this. Then we can see how they perform. They might sabotage. 8 Stop recording CV reactivity 9 P completes some post-questionnaires. 10 50 mins Debrief
  15. 15. Example of an eye-tracking heat map
  16. 16. Public engagement • Seeking funding from the Wellcome Trust – Demonstration of the equipment used in the experiment – Raise the issue of evaluating information especially the media through • Touring exhibition • Workshops • Proposed locations in Manchester, Stoke, Newcastle and London • London location in partnership with the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  17. 17. Information discernment: from theory to practice THANK YOU FOR LISTENING! ANY QUESTIONS? Dr Geoff Walton, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University Dr Jamie Barker, Associate Professor, Staffordshire University Dr Martin Turner, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire University Matt Pointon, Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University