The dissertation was successfully defended at 2 PM on August 31st, 2012…at 2 PM. I embedded the final materials as well as the proposal below for those of you that are interested.
This quasi-experimental, mixed-method study (Shadish, Cook & Campbell, 2004) investigated the extent to which critical evaluation skills required during online reading comprehension can be improved using a three-phase instructional model designed to engage students as creators of online information. It also examined the effectiveness of this instructional model in cultivating the dispositions students’ need when they read online. Finally, the study examined the themes and patterns that emerged as students thought critically about and constructed online content.
Perspectives, procedures, & findings
This study used a multiple theoretical perspective approach (Labbo & Reinking, 1999) incorporating several theoretical perspectives, including those from critical literacy (Friere, 1970; Luke, 2000), new literacies (Leu, O’Byrne, Zawilinski, McVerry, Everett-Cacopardo, 2009; Leu et al., 2011a), and cognitive apprenticeship (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989) to frame the study. In addition to the theoretical perspectives that framed this study, several areas of previous research inspired the investigation. There were three areas of previous research that guided the study: (a) critical evaluation, (b) multimodal design, and (c) dispositions of online reading comprehension.
The instructional model was designed to teach students in an economically challenged school how to use online resources and Internet and other Communication Technologies (ICTs) to acquire and use reliable informational sources to expand their knowledge base. The study was conducted in two phases: (a) one with quantitative data and research questions, and (b) the other with qualitative data and research questions. Inferences made on the basis of the results of each of these strands were integrated to form meta-inferences at the end of the study (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003).
Quantitative findings suggest that the ability to recognize and construct surface level markers of credibility and relevance can be improved using a three-phase instructional model designed to engage students as creators of online information. Quantitative data also suggests that the dispositions of critical stance and healthy skepticism may be enhanced. Qualitative results and interpretative case studies provide insight into the context and perspectives of the classroom environment that affected student success in the study. Findings can inform future contributions to theory development, research, and practice in the use of online information in school settings.
Final dissertation materials
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