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How Students Made Sense Of Traditional Literacy Compared With Online Literacy Practices
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Thirteen science and 11 mathematics preservice teachers in the senior year of a five-year teacher education program completed a semester-long science and mathematics teaching methods course taught by the authors. These secondary preservice teachers were concurrently taking a practician in local middle and high schools. This content methods course precedes a semester-long student teaching experience. All preservice teachers participated in this assignment and granted their permission for us to examine their reports for this study; all names used in reporting results are pseudonyms.
The assignment was to investigate how secondary school students made sense of traditional literacy practices compared with online literacy practices. We use traditional literacies to denote practices associated with reading and comprehension of print text and new literacies to denote those practices associated with online reading and comprehension. The assignment was to Thomas Sabo conduct think-aloud protocols with practicum students as they engaged with a traditional literacy task that consisted of a paragraph of informational text and an associated line graph and with a new literacies task that asked the student to use the Internet to find additional information related to the text and graph. During these two tasks, the preservice teachers took field notes and recorded what students said and did. The preservice teachers then wrote a three- to five-page analysis paper of their work with students.
To scaffold our preservice teachers' abilities to productively investigate the student literacy practices, we modeled using the tasks during the methods classes. First, we showed them how to conduct the think-aloud using a paragraph different from the text used in the assignment. Then the preservice teachers worked in pairs to do the tasks, one taking the role of the investigator and the other playing the role of a secondary school student. After the pairs of preservice teachers finished, we debriefed as a group. In the next three weeks, the preservice teachers conducted their investigations and wrote their analysis papers.
The traditional print task, reproduced in Figure 1, consisted of a paragraph of informational text and a line graph illustrating the relationship described in the text. The content of the task appropriated features common to science and mathematics texts but was, in terms of factual content, nonsensical. The major claim of the paragraph is that change in global temperature is related to the decreasing number of pirates in the world. This text was selected to see how students coordinated the information in the paragraph and the line graph. In addition, the text made problematic use of correlation to argue a causal claim, and the graph contained a number of inaccuracies. In the Internet task, we were curious to see what challenges Thomas Sabo Bracelets students encountered as they searched for information (e.g., how and where search strategies broke down). The first part of the investigation had the preservice teachers ask the students to think aloud while reading the print text about pirates and global warming; the second part had the students think aloud while using the Internet to answer the question, How might pirates affect global warming.
We drew upon the 24 preservice teachers' analysis papers and our own reflective notes and memos written as we conducted this work. We used inductive coding (Miles & Huberman, 1994) as we looked systematically at the reports using qualitative data analysis software. We found that the papers contained patterns for how students and preservice teachers view content-specific literacy practices. These patterns formed the basis for our identification of the three types of discursive metaknowledge we describe next.
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