“Do we have to actually understand all this?” Students’ on-line information search and evaluating the sources when working with Controversy Mapping
Aim: The purpose of this thesis is to explore upper-secondary students’ information search and their evaluation of on-line sources in a project work on socio-scientific issues when controversy mapping as a new digital method is implemented in the assignment. Accordingly, the focus of this study is on how students manage on-line information search and how they evaluate web-sources by relating these to their learning activities with specific socio-scientific issues. Theory: The current study draws on sociocultural traditions on learning (Vygotsky 1978), by which learning is understood as emerging through interaction with other people and with the tools available in the activity and embedded in the specific context of every specific situated practice (Säljö, 2000). Therefore, an important theoretical aspect of this thesis is how knowledge is mediated by communication and by the use of tools and how this interplays with students’ learning. Method: The current study is conducted as a qualitative case study, and the collection of empirical data consists of video-recorded activities of upper secondary students’ work at a Swedish school. The video-recorded data is analysed by interaction analysis (Jordan & Henderson, 1995). Interaction analysis implies studying the moment by moment interaction in detail, including the students’ talk, gestures etc. and their use of the applied tools. Results: The findings of the study show that the use of controversy mapping for searching and evaluating on-line information sources entails a very complex process because it implies open-ended information with many contested aspects of particular socio-scientific issues. Although the activities become rather challenging for the students, the tools do open possibilities for learning and new ways to visualize and articulate science. Moreover, working with controversy mapping demonstrates significance in its contributions to students’ information literacy, and to their awareness about users’ individual input when working with digital tools.