Thesis

Empowering Independent Learners: Internet Search Skills in the Fifth Grade

ABSTRACT
 EMPOWERING INDEPENDENT LEARNERS: INTERNET
 SEARCH SKILLS IN THE FIFTH GRADE
 by
 © Melody Jane Pike 2011
 Master of Arts in Education
 California State University, Chico
 Summer 2011
 Empowering students to be independent learners is an important part of educating the “digital-age” generation. Students in my class appeared to have no schemas or strategies to rely upon when attempting academic searches. Most students quickly grew frustrated and reverted to the 1970s set of encyclopedias in the room to seek answers.
 This thesis was conducted in a rural fifth-grade classroom and aimed at building Web-literacy skills among the twenty-seven participating students to find information on the Web. The history lessons covering the American Revolution were a wonderful context for the study, as there are many specific facts and events for the students to find. Data was collected using a variety of sources for this study including videotapes, written lessons, observations, surveys and journal entries from students and teachers. Student performance was assessed before and after the Web-searching lessons and focused on students’ ability to construct search queries and determine the trustworthiness of sources. The study also included measurements of students’ self-efficacy (student confidence). Analysis of the study’s results drew upon qualitative and quantitative techniques. Measurements from before and after the Web-searching lessons were examined and outcomes demonstrated that performance among students improved, and became more consistent, in Web-searching tasks.
 The mentor teacher and I were able to include a wide range of questions about the American Revolution and not merely the questions that were supported by the limited and dated reference materials available within the classroom. Teaching students to effectively search for information on the Web is an important part of empowering independent learners.

ABSTRACT EMPOWERING INDEPENDENT LEARNERS: INTERNET SEARCH SKILLS IN THE FIFTH GRADE by © Melody Jane Pike 2011 Master of Arts in Education California State University, Chico Summer 2011 Empowering students to be independent learners is an important part of educating the “digital-age” generation. Students in my class appeared to have no schemas or strategies to rely upon when attempting academic searches. Most students quickly grew frustrated and reverted to the 1970s set of encyclopedias in the room to seek answers. This thesis was conducted in a rural fifth-grade classroom and aimed at building Web-literacy skills among the twenty-seven participating students to find information on the Web. The history lessons covering the American Revolution were a wonderful context for the study, as there are many specific facts and events for the students to find. Data was collected using a variety of sources for this study including videotapes, written lessons, observations, surveys and journal entries from students and teachers. Student performance was assessed before and after the Web-searching lessons and focused on students’ ability to construct search queries and determine the trustworthiness of sources. The study also included measurements of students’ self-efficacy (student confidence). Analysis of the study’s results drew upon qualitative and quantitative techniques. Measurements from before and after the Web-searching lessons were examined and outcomes demonstrated that performance among students improved, and became more consistent, in Web-searching tasks. The mentor teacher and I were able to include a wide range of questions about the American Revolution and not merely the questions that were supported by the limited and dated reference materials available within the classroom. Teaching students to effectively search for information on the Web is an important part of empowering independent learners.

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