University of Algarve/FCHS (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 223-232
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
The importance of digital networks in the construction of our communicational and informational environment has accentuated the demand for change in education and the school. Teachers are expected to guide students in the use of these instruments to represent knowledge and create personal projects. These are complex skills that lead to changes in the initial training of teachers and, at the same time, to a view of education as a life-long process. The Web has been an important vehicle of this need for change, given the autonomy in the direct access to information sources that can become potential knowledge sources, if students develop the cognitive skills needed to successfully use, select and manage the resources accessed.
The present research was designed with the main goal of evaluating the influence of training regarding the acquisition of information search skills in an online environment. The participants are undergraduates (future teachers) from courses in the areas of Sciences, Languages and Informatics.
The study, quasi-experimental, sought to analyze the influence of training on Web search performance in users with different levels of experience. 52 students with experience in the use of the Internet were selected, and then distributed by four groups according to the variables training and experience in that use. Half of the participants took part in a face-to face-session, supported by an online environment, and all of them attended a session to search information on the Web. In the latter, they had to complete a nine-step task intended to measure their search performance.
The findings showed a cumulative effect of experience and training. The subjects having both experience and training always got best results, followed by those that had experience but no training, then those without experience but with training and, finally, those that had neither experience nor training. Training had a positive impact on Web search performance, but this impact varied according to the subject’s level of experience in the use of the Internet. In fact, training helped students without experience learn skills that raised their performance to levels near those of students with experience but that received no training. Training also seemed to homogenize and enhance search skills in the subjects with experience, although not in a statistically relevant manner.
The results point same essential implications. Access to information mediated by the Web poses more difficulties than the traditional sources of information, which calls for a reflection on the kind of initial training future ICT teachers get, and on how they will use what they learned in their pedagogical practice. The differences in web search performance observed in our study underline the importance of learning ways and actions capable of supporting effective searching. Training – seen as learning how to use the web, based on experimentation and positively evaluated by the participants – proved particularly useful for the less experienced users, which seems to indicate that it would be useful for undergraduates to do it simultaneously with the course they are in.
web-based information-seeking, web search skills, training, research.