Att söka information för att lära. En studie av samspel mellan informationssökning och lärande

Sammanfattning: SUMMARY IN ENGLISH Information seeking, didactics and learning (IDOL) The research interest in exploring a teaching perspective of information seeking emerged out of earlier research findings on students’ information seeking and learning, resulting in conclusions that there is close interaction between the quality of students’ information seeking and the quality of their learning outcomes (Alexandersson & Limberg 2003; 2005; Limberg 1999). Another point of departure for the IDOL study was previous research findings that teachers have vague notions of how to teach information seeking related to students’ research based learning (i.a. Moore 2000). The purpose of the IDOL study was to explore and describe variation in teachers’ and librarians’ experiences of teaching information seeking. Theoretical points of departure The research interest in studying variation led to the adoption of a phenomenographic research approach, where the research is focused on people’s various ways of experiencing a certain phenomenon, in our case, teaching information seeking. The study was based on the assumption that there is a connection between teaching and learning in the object of learning. In the study, information seeking as an object of learning is closely related to the concept of information literacy. This implies that the object of learning is constituted by the goals (the intended learning outcomes) and contents of teaching. In this study we treated information seeking as the object of learning and information literacy as the goals of both teaching and learning. Design The IDOL project was designed as an interview study, closely connected to the teaching practices of the project participants, where the main research interest concerned the contents and methods of teaching information seeking, as seen by teachers and librarians. Individual interviews were conducted with pedagogues (librarians and teachers) from three schools on recurrent occasions over three years. Interviews took their points of departure in concrete assignments carried out with students during the period of the interviews. Questions were also asked about the difficulties identified by project participants that were related to students’ information seeking as well as the criteria they used for assessing the quality of students’ information seeking. Cooperation between librarians and teachers was another theme in the interviews. The selection of schools and participants was guided by the research interest in deriving rich variation in experiences. Altogether 13 teachers and 5 librarians in three schools participated. The teachers mainly taught social studies in grades 6-12 (12-19 year old students); one was a science teacher. In total, 45 interviews were conducted. The empirical material also encompassed examples of students’ reports as well as the pedagogues’ written instructions for student assignments including advice on information seeking. Analyses of the interviews focused on identifying and describing variation in experiences of information literacy education. Phenomenographic research findings are presented as categories of experiences of the phenomenon which is the object of research. It is important to observe that categories of conceptions are not tied to the different individual interviewees but are composed from the total interview material. This means that various conceptions can be expressed by the same individual. Synthesis of IDOL findings Findings from the IDOL study indicate some interesting contradictions between teaching contents on the one hand, and the intended object of learning as well as assessment criteria on the other hand. Experiences of teaching content focused on; (i) specific sources, (ii) demonstrating tools, (iii) a recommended order between types of sources, and (iv) the user’s experience of the information seeking process. The idea of teaching students about a specific order to follow between types of sources during their information seeking dominates the material. The evaluation of sources was mainly experienced as something that students’ were unable to master and was rarely mentioned as an object of teaching. The overall impression of experiences of teaching contents was a focus on procedural matters, i.e. choosing the ‘right’ source, finding the ‘right’ answer or using a tool in the ‘right’ way. More abstract concepts linked to conscious relevance judgements, the critical evaluation of sources or the relationship between information seeking and various contexts seldom emerged in our material. Thus, while project participants emphasized the importance for students to learn to reflect on their own learning and actions, to formulate relevant research questions, to use time effectively, to critically evaluate their sources, and to analyze and synthesize information from a variety of sources, these issues rarely appeared in participants’ descriptions of teaching content. A comparison between the categories of experiences of teaching contents and the categories of experiences of the intended objects of learning (learning goals) as well as the expressed assessment criteria, indicates a striking lack of consistency. There is hardly any correlation between experiences of teaching content and conceptions of goals and assessment criteria, besides the relationship between citing sources as teaching content and a correct bibliography as an assessment criterion. One particularly interesting finding from the study is the identification of three different ways of conceptualising students’ ways of mastering the critical evaluation of sources, as; (a) a process of maturity, (b) a personal characteristic, and (c) a process of conscious learning. Experiences according to a- and b- categories, i.e. the critical evaluation of sources as a matter of maturity or a personal characteristic, were much more salient in our material than the c-conception; that a critical approach to sources is the result of a process of conscious learning. The a- and b-categories implied that the teaching of the critical evaluation of sources was viewed as impossible or meaningless or frustrating. This means that students’ possibilities to learn critical approaches to sources in school may be hampered by teachers’ and librarians’ views that this ability is a futile object of teaching. The c-category implied serious and systematic efforts to teach the critical evaluation of sources, but as already mentioned, there were few examples of this view in our study. Findings further indicate that cooperation between librarians and teachers is experienced as (a) division of work tasks or (b) possibilities of crossing boundaries, or (c) possibilities of learning and development. While the a-category identifies differences between the two professions as obstacles for cooperation the b- and c-categories viewed differences in competencies as offering a particular potential for creative innovation. Discussion and conclusions of IDOL findings Experiences of teaching content as revealed in these findings indicate that teaching practices are highly restricted with regard to models and theories of information seeking. Conclusions from the IDOL study are that the mediation of information seeking requires deliberate reconsideration as far as teaching contents and methods are concerned, and the development of a more complex awareness of what it means to be information literate. The rich descriptions of variation resulting from the IDOL project combined with a research based theoretical view of information seeking provide well grounded proposals for the development of the didactics of information seeking.

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