Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 9951-9957
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.0883
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Digital Literacy (DL) and Critical Analysis (CA) are important competences for future professionals to solve problems with proficiency and scientific basis. One of the main roles of higher education is to promote these two competences (i.e. DL and CA) and in Psychology Degree syllabus, these competences are included. Nevertheless, they are seldom being developed together and interconnectedly. Thus, our challenge has been to design new learning strategies for the interwoven development of these competences.

This paper presents the most recent results of an ongoing three-year teaching innovation project interweaving the development of DL and CA in first-year undergraduate students of the Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Barcelona. In the subject of Social Psychology, students face the following group task: they must give an informed answer to a socially relevant question using articles of scientific databases and analysing and comparing the obtained information. In so doing, students are expected to improve learn how to do a bibliographical search and apply critical analysis principles and put them at their service to give an informed answer to a relevant question for their field of interest.

In this group task, students use two scientific databases: PsycNET and Sociological Abstracts. These two databases are important for social psychology, as PsycNET offers students a filtered and curated database of scientific publications from a psychological standpoint, while Sociological Abstracts offers an approach to psychosocial processes from a sociological point of view. Altogether, these two databases let them answer more richly to an answer than only using one or another.

To conduct these searches, students first identify and discuss which are the key psychosocial concepts and processes underlying the phenomena that appears in their question. After that, they perform a first search using those key concepts and processes, and undergo a first analysis of the obtained results using the information offered by the databases. Then, they look for one relevant article in each database, justifying their decisions and analysing it. Finally, the students compare these articles in relation to how they can answer altogether to their socially relevant question. All this process is explained in a writing assignment, which the teacher later evaluates.

The acquisition of DL and CA competences is assessed using two indicators:
1) before starting the group task, a questionnaire of 5 items related to digital literacy and critical analysis key aspects which would be developed in the group task; and,
2) after the group task, these same competences were assessed when marking the writing assignment with a rubric.

The analysis of the efficacy of this intervention indicates that the development of DL and CA competences occur at the same time and promote each other. This is evidenced both in the improvement observed in the rubric in relation to questionnaire items, and in the qualitative analysis that can be done through students’ feedback and the observations of the supervisors.

In conclusion, this methodology is useful to promote an intertwined development of DL and CA in future professionals, so they can provide informed and scientific answers to the problems they will face in their daily practice. Also, it seems a promising methodology to be applied to other disciplines in higher education teaching.
critical analysis, digital literacy, social psychology, scientific database.