08 SES 03 A, Health Literacy
In Finland, like many other Western countries, health risks among young people are increasing. Polarization in lifestyles is prominent: although many adolescents have hobbies including physical exercise, sedentary lifestyle is getting more common, making overweight, diabetes and other health issues grow in frequency (WHO 2017). This despite the Finnish adolescents should be ‘literate’ regarding health. Since 2004, health education (HE) has been a compulsory, independent subject in Finnish secondary education (13–15 years). Qualified HE teachers teach the subject, embedded in the timetable, guided by specific learning objectives and assessment practices (Aira et al. 2014). Meanwhile, navigating the flood of online information, created by a large diversity of information providers, can be problematic. Specifically, health-related information appears complex and contradictory, making it difficult for many adolescents to know what to believe and who to trust in ever-changing information environments. Thus, new kinds of literacies are needed to make informed health decisions.
The national core curriculum (FNBE 2014) aims to address this demand for critical literacy. It embeds information literacy that stresses information seeking skills: finding, evaluating, and using information. The evaluation of information and sources in terms of their credibility and trustworthiness refer to the notion of cognitive authority (Wilson 1983). Our understanding is based on, besides our own experiences, second-hand knowledge, that is, what we hear from others. Nevertheless, we do not believe everything, but prefer particular sources that we trust and that, thus, influence our thinking (Wilson 1983). Cognitive authorities are contextual and constructed rather than derived from their institutional position.
Furthermore, the curriculum stresses learners’ agency and introduces the concept of multiliteracy, emphasizing a sociocultural approach to learning and the aspect of production of multimodal texts (FNBE 2014). These ideas, potentially promoting the meaningfulness of HE, are based on collaborative learning, which may challenge both teachers and learners. They are invited to generate effective classroom talk to actively build knowledge instead of mere teacher recitation that still too often dominates in many classrooms (Mercer & Littleton 2007). The teacher needs to design pedagogically meaningful social practices, employing both dialogic teaching and group work, and, in real-time, to support dialogue in collaborative information seeking and knowledge building. Health education enables convergent tasks that allow more exact answers and explicit reasoning-in-talk (Rojas-Drummond et al. 2010). In dialogic teaching, the teacher and learners together address learning tasks by co-constructing a scientific story (Lehesvuori et al. 2013), sharing and discussing ideas freely, and listening to one another. The pedagogical value of dialogue can be improved by exchanging ideas that lead to further questions developing learners’ thinking (Alexander 2008).
Although collaborative source-based assignments are now common at school (Sormunen et al. 2013), many researchers (e.g. Limberg et al. 2008) have revealed difficulties in information practices among adolescents, whereas teachers often face challenges in scaffolding collaborative information seeking projects, tending to overestimate learners’ abilities to learn information practices.
This study addresses the above challenges by investigating group-based knowledge projects including information seeking and content production in the context of secondary-school health education. To follow Mercer and Howe’s (2012) recommendation on inseparable observations of teacher–student and collaborative interaction in classroom curriculum, we take a holistic approach to the projects by asking:
1) How do the learning communities (the teacher and students) generate knowledge building dialogue?
2) How do they negotiate and evaluate information content?
In this multiple-case study, three collaborative knowledge projects were implemented in HE lessons in Grades 8 and 9 (N=55). In the three cases, each teacher assigned the students (14–16 yrs) to groups to produce a joint artifact, i.e. media content about health-related themes included as subject content in the curriculum. In Case 1, 2–3-member groups created paper posters on special diets and in Case 2, 3-member groups made PowerPoint presentations on chronic and infectious diseases, whereas in Case 3, 4–5-member groups produced videos on the pros and cons of physical exercise. Despite we explicated our vision on productive interaction and information evaluation to the teachers, they orchestrated the projects according to their own pedagogical aims. Thus, the settings can be considered natural. We collected mixed-method data using video-recorded observations on all project phases, pair interviews with students (N=37), and a set of short questionnaires on students’ collaborative experiences at the end of the projects. This presentation focuses on the video data on collaborative information practices that we captured in the whole-class settings by using three DV cameras, one recording from the rear of the classroom and two from the front. In the first group session of each project, we randomly chose groups to be videoed, whereas other groups were audio recorded. The groups were occasionally working in the classroom or other spaces of the school. The video data were transcribed, annotated and analyzed using QSR NVivo. Based on our data-driven thematic analysis, we chose to focus on the first three sessions and examine collaborative knowledge building in groups. We adapted the thinking of Kumpulainen and Wray (2002) who developed an analysis framework based on speech functions, Functional Analysis of Children’s Classroom Talk. FACCT framework has later been elaborated by Muhonen and colleagues (2017) who focused on the speech functions that contribute intrinsically to the process of collaborative knowledge building, namely fact, view, and experience (Muhonen et al. 2017). The three aspects obviously resonate Wilson’s (1983) theory involving second-hand knowledge. We further modified the framework to examine classroom talk by including teacher talk and dividing the function fact to: representational (reading aloud, repeating), processed (reasoning, dictating processed, self-popularized information) and evaluating, initially present in FACCT. In the ongoing analysis of our large video data, we employ these sub-aspects to identify in what terms participants evaluate information or knowledge linked to the topic.
Preliminary findings reveal the teachers’ different styles to orchestrate collaborative knowledge projects and facilitate classroom dialogue. Although none of the teachers instructed the use of different information sources, the aspects of information seeking and knowledge building were taken into account, though in various degrees. In Case 1, the teacher raised to whole-class discussion some task-related viewpoints emerging in groups, such as information credibility. In Case 2, the teacher joined the groups as a member of the learning community to facilitate sense making on complex medical concepts. In this project, laptops and tablets, employed to produce presentations, offered an easy access to online sources. However in Case 3, scarce group scaffolding allowed the teacher no opportunities to reflect the low task difficulty, discouraging the students from information seeking and knowledge building and gradually deteriorating their motivation. In cases 1 and 2, most groups collaborated motivated using their mobile phones to seek information, but information content, sources and their trustworthiness were not discussed or evaluated. Rather than negotiated in groups, cognitive authorities appeared given (teacher-selected “trustworthy” printed material from formal institutes) or taught earlier (formal websites). Besides the teacher, some group members were positioned as cognitive authorities, e.g. due to a physician parent. Furthermore, experts by experience were encouraged to share their lived experiences. The content for the joint outcome was negotiated following earlier adopted norms to avoid direct citing, inform cited references, and when presenting their outcome, not to read aloud directly the presentation. Although evaluating of credibility remained scarce, the analysis framework helped us to sketch an implicitly negotiated criteria guiding knowledge building: information was considered in terms of simplicity, relevance, and indispensablility with respect to the task assignment, teacher requests or their own interests and understanding. Our analysis continues using nexus analysis to understand better the complex classroom dialogues.
Aira, T., Välimaa, R., Paakkari, L., Villberg, J., & Kannas, L. (2014). Finnish pupils’ perceptions of health education as a school subject. Global Health Promotion, 21(3), 6–18. Alexander, R. (2008). Culture, dialogue and learning: Notes on an emerging pedagogy. Exploring talk in school, 91–114. FNBE (Finnish National Board of Education). (2014). Core curriculum for basic education 2014. Kumpulainen, K., & Wray, D. (Eds.). (2002). Classroom interaction and social learning: From theory to practice. Psychology Press. Lehesvuori, S., Viiri, J., Rasku-Puttonen, H., Moate, J., & Helaakoski, J. (2013). Visualizing communication structures in science classrooms: Tracing cumulativity in teacher-led whole class discussions. Journal of research in science teaching, 50(8), 912–939. Limberg, L., Alexandersson, M., Lantz-Andersson, A., & Folkesson, L. (2008). What matters? Shaping meaningful learning through teaching information literacy. International Journal of Libraries and Information Studies, 58, 82–91. Mercer, N., & Howe, C. (2012). Explaining the dialogic processes of teaching and learning: The value and potential of sociocultural theory. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 1(1), 12-21. Mercer, N., & Littleton, K. (2007). Dialogue and the development of children's thinking: A sociocultural approach. Routledge. Muhonen, H., Rasku-Puttonen, H., Pakarinen, E., Poikkeus, A.-M., & Lerkkanen, M.-K. (2017). Knowledge building patterns in educational dialogue. International Journal of Educational Research, 81, 25–37. Rojas-Drummond S. M., Littleton, K., Hernández, F., & Zúñiga, M. (2010). Dialogical interactions among peers in collaborative writing contexts. In C. Howe & K. Littleton (Eds.), Educational dialogues: Understanding and promoting productive interaction (pp.128–148). London: Routledge. Sormunen, E., Alamettälä, T., & Heinström, J. (2013, October). The teacher’s role as facilitator of collaborative learning in information literacy assignments. In European Conference on Information Literacy (pp. 499–506). WHO (World Health Organization). (2017). Adolescents: health risks and solutions. Fact sheet. Updated May 2017. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs345/en/ / [Last accessed on 2018 Jan 29] Wilson, P. (1983). Second-hand knowledge: An inquiry into cognitive authority.
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