June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.1368.1 - 13.1368.8
Using virtual teams to improve information literacy and distributed cognition in a collaborative writing and general chemistry assignment
How might individual information literacy skills contribute to the work of the group? Would a cross-curricular assignment generate observable communication related to distributed cognition during virtual team activities?
Two collaborating faculty developed a linked assignment in a general education chemistry course and an upper-level technical writing course. The goals of our collaboration were to foster students’ control, awareness and demonstration of learning, improve student information literacy, and cultivate students’ negotiations with team members. We use the term “distributed cognition” to describe virtual interactions among students that led to fulfilling the goals of the linked assignment. Students’ information literacy skills “funded” the pool of knowledge for student teams to access as they address the problems posed by their assignment to build a presentation.
Information literacy (also known as information fluency) is an umbrella concept encompassing library instruction, computer literacy, critical thinking, communication, ethics, and lifelong learning. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) defines information literacy as “the set of skills needed to find, retrieve, analyze, and use information”1 and presents information literacy standards for science, engineering and technology.2 Information literacy enables learners to “master content and extent their investigations and become more self- directed, and assume greater control over their own learning”.3
Lave and Wegner proposed that “situated learning” occurs within the context of a “community of practice”, a “set of relations among persons, activities, and world, over time and in relation with other overlapping communities”.4 They claimed that in the community of practice, learning results from the structure of practice, rather than exclusively from the structure of pedagogy; a novice progresses through various stages of participation, including learning the specialized tools and discourse of the community. Ben-Ari, speaking as one engaged in science education, emphasizes the role of curricular content as well as the learning activities in the communities of practice.5 Robey, Khoo, et.al, extend community of practice to “virtual” communities in their study.6
Donath, Spray, Alford, et. al. used the term, “distributed cognition” to explain the integrated contributions of team members,7 where every person contributes to the learning of every other person. Cognition, rather than an individual function, is an activity distributed among persons and their environment. Donath and partners identified seven speech events associated with active learning: critique, elicitation of critique, internalization and awareness of knowledge gained, contextualization and explanation of research or related ideas, negotiations and
Oh, J., & Collins, J. (2008, June), Using Virtual Teams To Improve Information Literacy And Distributed Cognition In A Collaborative Writing And General Chemistry Assignment Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3802
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