Information and Learning Science

Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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  • Co-designing tools for workplace learning. A method for analysing and tracing the appropriation of affordances in design-based research

    Purpose: Introducing technology at work presents a special challenge as learning is tightly integrated with workplace practices. Current design-based research (DBR) methods are focused on formal learning context and often questioned for a lack of yielding traceable research insights. This paper aims to propose a method that extends DBR by understanding tools as sociocultural artefacts, co-designing affordances and systematically studying their adoption in practice. Design/methodology/approach: The iterative practice-centred method allows the co-design of cognitive tools in DBR, makes assumptions and design decisions traceable and builds convergent evidence by consistently analysing how affordances are appropriated. This is demonstrated in the context of health-care professionals’ informal learning, and how they make sense of their experiences. The authors report an 18-month DBR case study of using various prototypes and testing the designs with practitioners through various data collection means. Findings: By considering the cognitive level in the analysis of appropriation, the authors came to an understanding of how professionals cope with pressure in the health-care domain (domain insight); a prototype with concrete design decisions (design insight); and an understanding of how memory and sensemaking processes interact when cognitive tools are used to elaborate representations of informal learning needs (theory insight). Research limitations/implications: The method is validated in one long-term and in-depth case study. While this was necessary to gain an understanding of stakeholder concerns, build trust and apply methods over several iterations, it also potentially limits this. Originality/value: Besides generating traceable research insights, the proposed DBR method allows to design technology-enhanced learning support for working domains and practices. The method is applicable in other domains and in formal learning.

  • Envisioning reciprocal and sustainable HBCU-LIS pipeline partnerships. What HBCU librarians have to say

    Purpose: After the closing of four of the five historically Black college and university (HBCU)–based library and information science (LIS) graduate programs (leaving only that of North Carolina Central University), there is a need to revitalize HBCU-LIS degree program pathways to increase racial diversity in LIS education. Design/methodology/approach: This mixed-methods study entails survey and interview research with HBCU librarians. The researchers explored participants’ professional experiences and perspectives on creating partnerships between HBCU institutions and LIS graduate programs. Findings: Participants demonstrated substantial experience, expressed high levels of job satisfaction, viewed pipeline programs favorably and believed that LIS can be strengthened through the inclusion of HBCU educational practices and students. Practical implications: This study provides recommendations and a model for forging culturally competent and reciprocal HBCU–LIS degree program partnerships. Social implications: Community-led knowledge of HBCUs can disrupt rescue and deficiency narratives of these institutions. Such prejudices are detrimental to HBCU-LIS degree program partnerships. Originality/value: Past HBCU-LIS degree program pipeline partnerships did not culminate in research or published best practices. This paper presents literature-derived and community-sourced guidelines along with a model for future initiatives.

  • Choice and interest in designed learning environments: the case of FUSE Studios

    Purpose: Empirical investigation into the e-learning innovation, FUSE Studios, is both timely and relevant because FUSE is rapidly expanding domestically and abroad and there is continued interest in the interdisciplinary fields of information and learning sciences in the constructs of choice and interest as they relate to the provision and design of learning experiences. In particular, this paper aims to contribute to scholarly and design-based conversations on how e-learning innovations – especially those situated within the digital youth and constructionism strands of research – can be designed in ways that support robust opportunities for learning for young people (Reynolds et al., 2019). Design/methodology/approach: Drawing upon a large corpus of mixed-methods data including computer-generated activity log data, youth survey data and studio facilitator interview data, this paper examines patterns of use and interest-related experience among young people in a range of FUSE Studios settings across the USA. Findings: The results suggest that student choice within FUSE’s curricular and Studio model tends to support a broad exploration of interests across a wide range of youth, rather than a deep dive into particular Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) content areas. Practical implications: Alongside the broad exploration that was found to characterize the patterns of student choice in FUSE Studios, a striking number of students from those surveyed reported that FUSE supported their interest development: they liked the FUSE challenges, were always able to find something of interest to do in the FUSE Studios and saw the FUSE challenges are supportive of their current and future interests. (See similar findings in Stevens et al., 2016). We understand these student self-reported experiences as evidence that the FUSE Studios model did well to encourage meaningful, interest-driven learning experiences for youth. Originality/value: Committed to making research usable for practice, this paper offers implications for future e-learning designs that seek to make choice and interest central to the organization of activity and environment.

  • Does speaker’s voice enthusiasm affect social cue, cognitive load and transfer in multimedia learning?

    Purpose: This study aims to examine the effects of voice enthusiasm (enthusiastic voice vs calm voice) on social ratings of the speaker, cognitive load and transfer performance in multimedia learning. Design/methodology/approach: Two laboratory experiments were conducted in which learners learned from a multimedia presentation about computer algorithm that was narrated by either an enthusiastic human voice or a calm human voice. Findings: Results from Experiment 1 revealed that the enthusiastic voice narration led to higher social ratings of the speaker and transfer performance when compared to the calm voice narration. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the enthusiastic voice led to higher affective social ratings (human-like and engaging) and transfer performance as compared to the calm voice. Moreover, it was shown that a calm voice prompted a higher germane load than an enthusiastic voice, which conforms to the argument that prosodic cues in voice can influence processing in multimedia learning among non-native speakers. Originality/value: This study extends from prior studies that examined voice effects related to mechanization, accent, dialect, and slang in multimedia learning to examining the effects of voice enthusiasm in multimedia learning.

  • Scale up predictive models for early detection of at-risk students: a feasibility study

    Purpose: This study aims to investigate the feasibility of developing general predictive models for using the learning management system (LMS) data to predict student performances in various courses. The authors focused on examining three practical but important questions: are there a common set of student activity variables that predict student performance in different courses? Which machine-learning classifiers tend to perform consistently well across different courses? Can the authors develop a general model for use in multiple courses to predict student performance based on LMS data? Design/methodology/approach: Three mandatory undergraduate courses with large class sizes were selected from three different faculties at a large Western Canadian University, namely, faculties of science, engineering and education. Course-specific models for these three courses were built and compared using data from two semesters, one for model building and the other for generalizability testing. Findings: The investigation has led the authors to conclude that it is not desirable to develop a general model in predicting course failure across variable courses. However, for the science course, the predictive model, which was built on data from one semester, was able to identify about 70% of students who failed the course and 70% of students who passed the course in another semester with only LMS data extracted from the first four weeks. Originality/value: The results of this study are promising as they show the usability of LMS for early prediction of student course failure, which has the potential to provide students with timely feedback and support in higher education institutions.

  • How “accessible” is open data?. Analysis of context-related information and users’ comments in open datasets

    Purpose: This paper aims to examine the nature and sufficiency of descriptive information included in open datasets and the nature of comments and questions users write in relation to specific datasets. Open datasets are provided to facilitate civic engagement and government transparency. However, making the data available does not guarantee usage. This paper examined the nature of context-related information provided together with the datasets and identified the challenges users encounter while using the resources. Design/methodology/approach: The authors extracted descriptive text provided together with (often at the top of) datasets (N = 216) and the nature of questions and comments users post in relation to the dataset. They then segmented text descriptions and user comments into “idea units” and applied open-coding with constant comparison method. This allowed them to come up with thematic issues that descriptions focus on and the challenges users encounter. Findings: Results of the analysis revealed that context-related descriptions are limited and normative. Users are expected to figure out how to use the data. Analysis of user comments/questions revealed four areas of challenge they encounter: organization and accessibility of the data, clarity and completeness, usefulness and accuracy and language (spelling and grammar). Data providers can do more to address these issues. Research limitations/implications: The purpose of the study is to understand the nature of open data provision and suggest ways of making open data more accessible to “non expert users”. As such, it is not focused on generalizing about open data provision in various countries as such provision may be different based on jurisdiction. Practical implications: The study provides insight about ways of organizing open dataset that the resource can be accessible by the general public. It also provides suggestions about how open data providers could consider users' perspectives including providing continuous support. Originality/value: Research on open data often focuses on technological, policy and political perspectives. Arguably, this is the first study on analysis of context-related information in open-datasets. Datasets do not “speak for themselves” because they require context for analysis and interpretation. Understanding the nature of context-related information in open dataset is original idea.

  • Motivational virtual agent in e-learning: the roles of regulatory focus and message framing

    Purpose: The aim of this paper is to examine the effects of a learner’s regulatory focus orientation and message frame of a motivational virtual agent in an e-learning environment. Design/methodology/approach: On the basis of quasi-experimental design, university sophomores (n = 210) categorized as chronic promotion-focus, chronic prevention-focus or neutral regulatory focus interacted with either an agent that conveyed gain-frame message or an agent that conveyed loss-frame message to persuade learners to engage with the e-learning content. Statistical analyses assessed the effects of regulatory focus and message frame on agent perception, motivation and cognitive load. Findings: The results of this paper did not support the hypotheses that chronic promotion-focus learners will benefit more with gain-frame agent than a loss-frame agent, and that chronic prevention-focus learners will benefit more with loss-frame agent than a gain-frame agent. There were main effects of message frame (albeit small effects) – the loss-frame agent was perceived to be more engaging, induced higher motivation and prompted higher germane load than the gain-frame agent. With gain-frame agent, chronic promotion-focus learners had higher motivation toward the e-learning task than other learners. Originality/value: Prior studies have examined regulatory focus and message frame with agents simulating virtual health advocates. This paper extended on this by examining these roles with a persuasive agent simulating virtual tutor in an e-learning environment.

  • Exploring how teachers support students’ mathematical learning in computer-directed learning environments

    Purpose: This study explores the teacher’s role for implementing a cognitive tutor (CT) intended to increase students’ knowledge of proportional reasoning and potential impacts on students’ learning. Design/methodology/approach: Using a mixed methods approach to design-based research, the authors examine results from three different phases of the CT implementation using frameworks from mathematics education research. Findings: Based on observations of 10 educators, the authors identify 4 different types of interactions among the CT, students and educators. Using observations and student assessment results (n = 134), the authors begin to build an argument that different types of interactions have the potential to impact students’ opportunities to learn in computer-directed learning environments. Originality/value: The authors conclude that research on the efficacy of computer-directed learning environments should consider differences in implementation of CT materials and that the types of CT, student and educator interactions described herein provide a framework to support such exploration.

  • Coding schemes as lenses on collaborative learning

    Purpose: Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is widely used in different levels of education across disciplines and domains. Researchers in the field have proposed various conceptual frameworks toward a comprehensive understanding of CSCL. However, as the definition of CSCL is varied and contextualized, it is critical to develop a shared understanding of collaboration and common definitions for the metrics that are used. The purpose of this research is to present a synthesis that focuses explicitly on the types and features of coding schemes that are used as analytic tools for CSCL. Design/methodology/approach: This research collected coding schemes from researchers with diverse backgrounds who participated in a series of workshops on collaborative learning and adaptive support in CSCL, as well as coding schemes from recent volumes of the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative learning (ijCSCL). Each original coding scheme was reviewed to generate an empirically grounded framework that reflects collaborative learning models. Findings: The analysis generated 13 categories, which were further classified into three domains: cognitive, social and integrated. Most coding schemes contained categories in the cognitive and integrated domains. Practical implications: This synthesized coding scheme could be used as a toolkit for researchers to pay attention to the multiple and complex dimensions of collaborative learning and for developing a shared language of collaborative learning. Originality/value: By analyzing a set of coding schemes, the authors highlight what CSCL researchers find important by making these implicit understandings of collaborative learning visible and by proposing a common language for researchers across disciplines to communicate by referencing a synthesized framework.

  • Pre-primary teachers’ preparedness in integrating information and communication technology in teaching and learning in Tanzania

    Purpose: Integration and use of technology in teaching and learning in the education sector from pre-primary education (PPE) to the higher levels of education, is a policy issue. In developed countries, including Tanzania, information and communication technology (ICT), especially in PPE, is inadequately researched for laying evidence on its applicability in instruction and learning. Therefore, this paper aims to determine pre-primary teachers’ preparedness in integrating ICT in classroom instruction and challenges teachers face in integrating it for child’s meaningful learning. Design/methodology/approach: Methods and instruments: a qualitative transcendental phenomenological approach was used in determining teachers’ preparedness in integrating ICT in PPE in Tanzania. It was further used to collect data that describe the teaching and learning through the integration of ICT in every session as their lived experience for pre-primary teachers. Its selection was appropriate as it allowed researchers to systematically analyse for description the commonalities and differences existing among the involved teachers in integrating ICT in teaching and learning as their lived experiences (Moerer-Urdahl and Creswell, 2004). To appropriately analyse teachers’ understanding and experiences regarding ICT and its integration in teaching and learning in pre-primary classes, semi-structured interviews and open-ended questionnaires were used for in-depth understanding of the study problem. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data through open-ended questions where researchers took an average of 40 min per session with participants’ (teachers) using notebooks to take note of their thoughts, feelings and beliefs about ICT integration in PPE. Use of the semi-structured interview was based on the reality that it provides in-depth information pertaining to participants’ experiences and viewpoints of a particular topic (Turner, 2010). Once the interview session was complete, each teacher was given a questionnaire to fill in for triangulating their experiences. Description of participants: a total of 14 schools constituting 28 teachers were purposively sampled and engaged in this study. Analysis of participants’ demographic characteristics indicates that all of the involved teachers had certificate in teacher education that qualified them as primary school teachers. Meanwhile, 18 (66.7 per cent) of the pre-primary school teachers who were involved in this study were female with only 10 (33.3 per cent) had working experience at and above five years of teaching in early grade classes. Study participants (teachers) from Itilima and Meatu Districts were purposively involved in the study as their experiences in young children’s learning and contextual influences (educational and training policy of 2014, the ICT policy of 2007, and foreign studies) are potential in improving the quality of learning. Study area: the current study was conducted in two districts (Itilima and Meatu) all found in Simiyu region. The two districts were selected and considered appropriate by the study as they constituted the 17 most disadvantaged rural areas in Tanzania (Mosha et al., 2015). Authors describe the two districts as having poor educational outcomes mainly relatively low pass rates in the primary school leaving examination results. In Itilima, one ward out of 22 was studied in which its six schools [with a total of 12 teachers] among 87 schools in the district were involved. While in Meatu district, eight of 121 schools [with a total of 16 teachers] in one ward of 29 wards were studied. This implies that a total of 14 schools and 28 teachers were involved in this study. Data analysis: the data collected through the interviews and open-ended questionnaires were subjected to content analysis procedures (reading and re-reading notes and transcripts followed by a three-steps-coding process consisting of open, axial and selective coding procedures). The analysis process was informed by the Vagle’s (2014) six steps for phenomenological research data analysis procedure (holistic reading of the entire text, first line-by-line reading, follow up questions, second line-by-line reading, third line-by-line reading, and subsequent readings). Practically, the researchers read and re-read the texts and transcribed data from the language used during data collection that is Kiswahili, into the reporting language that is English. Following transcription, data were coded for developing categories of data through axial and elective coding processes. Findings: The data analysis was conducted and results and its discussion are presented in three sub-sections: preparedness of teachers in using ICT in teaching and learning; teachers’ views about the integration of ICT in teaching and learning; and challenges faced by teachers in integrating ICT in teaching and learning. Teacher’s preparedness in the use of ICT in teaching: exploration of teachers’ preparedness in integrating ICT in teaching and learning was preceded by exploration of teachers’ understanding of ICT in teaching and learning. Analysis revealed that majority of teachers were aware about ICT in teaching and learning and they understood it as the implementation of curriculum at school level that involves use of ICT-based facilities such as television, mobile phones, computer and radio. Teacher elaborated that appropriate use of ICT-based facilities that would later develop children to potentially improve their understanding and practical application in daily life. Other teachers understood ICT in teaching and learning as use of printed materials [newspapers and magazines] in facilitating pupil’s learning of planned lessons. While other teachers were aware of what ICT means the second category of teachers as noted in their responses, had limited understanding, as to them, ICT in education meant use of printed materials. Difference in teachers’ understanding of the ICT in teaching and learning also indicate some teachers viewing it as use of ICT facilities in developing children’s competencies in the specific subject. In the teachers’ views, ICT is considered as subject content and they delimited their understanding into that perspective ignoring it as technological use for facilitating meaningful learning in all subjects. Their views are based on the development of children with competencies useful in facilitating further learning in the subject known as Teknolojia ya Habari na Mawasiliano. Following the question based on exploring teachers’ understanding of ICT in teaching and learning, researchers explored teachers’ preparedness in using ICT in teaching and learning. Table 1.0 illustrates teachers’ multiple responses regarding their preparation. Table I: teacher’s preparedness in using ICT in teaching and learning. S/N; preparedness; freq; and per cent. Enhancing child’s understanding on the use of ICT-based facilities-20, 71.4; using remedial sessions teaching ICT-12, 42.8; using ICT-based facilities for teaching other classes-8, 28.5. Table 1.0 illustrates that teachers are prepared to enable children use ICT to access information and more knowledge related to their school subjects and general life. They were of the view that ICT could serve well in areas where text and supplementary books are scares or torn-out by pupils because were poorly bound or due to poor quality of papers used. Therefore, availability of ICT facilities in schools would become important resource-materials for pupils, as well as teachers. For instance, a teacher said that; Availability of ICT facilities, such as computers in schools will help us in preparing notes or content for supplementing their learning. Different from the paper-based notes, computers will keep our notes properly compared to the papers that get easily displaced and hard to retrieve notes when lost (Interview, 20 April 2016). In addition to the use of ICT facilities in serving as resource material, their use in schools would aid pupils and teachers to use them beyond teaching and learning. Teachers narrated that children may find games and puzzles that all help in stimulating their thinking, hence interest in schooling and further learning. Teachers also said they are prepared to use even extra hours that are beyond school timetable to ensure children learn well to meet the uncovered periods once facilities are placed in school. Use of extra hours beyond the normal school timetable comm. Research limitations/implications: The study was limited to the accessed and involved schools as some schools were found to have no specific teachers teaching a pre-primary class on reasons the responsible teacher for the class had retired. As a result, researchers spend extended time to travel and reach schools that were located far from one school to the other. Again, some teachers were reluctant in participation on reasons that researchers are evaluating their competency for reporting to the higher authorities. Practical implications: Differences in teachers’ understanding of the ICT in teaching and learning also indicate some teachers viewing it as the use of ICT facilities in developing pupils’ competencies in the specific subject. In the teachers’ views, ICT is considered as subject content and they delimited their understanding into that perspective ignoring it as technological use for facilitating meaningful learning in all subjects. Effective integration of ICT for efficiency in instruction depends on the teacher’s preparedness especially competency in using the equipments and infrastructures especially electric power. Social implications: Integration of Information and Communication Technology in teaching and learning in PPE is socially important in the view that all children regardless of their background (urban or rural, affluent or poor) benefits in learning through use of technology. The children’s access to education integrating ICT would ensure equal opportunities for quality learning outcomes. In contrast, lack of exposing young children early in using ICT facilities for interaction and learning would adversely impact their participation in knowledge sharing in later years of schooling and employability opportunities. Originality/value: There is limited empirical evidence about teachers' engagement in research particularly in PPE in Tanzania. Together with limited research in the level of education, this study is the original contribution to state of teachers at the school level about their engagement in integrating information and communication technology for informing education decision makers and administrators on matters of focus to improve educational instruction and implementation of Tanzania education and training policy, as well as the implementation of the ICT policy of 2016.

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