Novel readings: Exploring the effects of technology-enhanced activities on literature engagement and social learning in a middle school setting
Prudence Hobbie Cuper, North Carolina State University, United States
North Carolina State University . Awarded
The purpose of this case study was to examine the effects of adding technology-based reading activities on adolescent learners' cognitive engagement with text and social learning. The informant group included an 8th grade reading/language arts teacher and five students selected purposively to represent diversity in the areas of gender, race, and reading interest/ability. Technology-based activities used in the study included an Internet research activity, a discussion forum, and a web site for literacy activities called Literacy Junction (www.ncsu.edu/literacyjunction).
The study parameters for assessing cognitive engagement with text were based on Corno and Mandinach's reading framework of planning, connecting, and selecting as the operative dynamics during engagement. Similarly, analysis of the findings was based on this model. In brief, findings suggest technology-based literacy activities can enhance: (1) pre-reading engagement with multiple perspectives on text-related social issues; (2) critical evaluation of information resources; (3) personal connections to text-related social issues that include written articulation of personal positions followed by dissemination of these positions to global (Web) audiences.
The constructs underlying the study's inquiry into technology and social learning were chiefly Vygotsky's interpersonal and intrapersonal learning modes. Findings suggest technology-based reading activities can abet interpersonal and intrapersonal learning largely through the dynamics of computer-mediated anonymity, virtual counterparts, and perceived audience. Regarding interpersonal learning, it was observed technology-based activities facilitated collaborative or shared meaning-making, group-based critical evaluation of resources, and distributed expertise, all of which synergistically supported the processes of socially constructed knowledge. Regarding intrapersonal learning, technology-based activities permitted and fostered a unique means of safely exploring and negotiating personal identity, the central developmental issue during adolescence. Among several intrapersonal learning benefits from technology-based activities, the freedom to be more candid and to assume various identity guises was key.
With both cognitive engagement and social learning, findings indicate a significant potential in technology-based activities for liberating and harnessing student energies towards literacy ends, personal growth, and collaboratively derived knowledge.
Cuper, P.H. Novel readings: Exploring the effects of technology-enhanced activities on literature engagement and social learning in a middle school setting. Ph.D. thesis, North Carolina State University.
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