Informationssökning med datorstöd: Att utveckla ett källkritiskt och demokratiskt förhållningssätt i årskurs 9 [Information Seeking with Computer Support - Developing a Source Critical and Democratic Approach in Junior High School]

Stefan Svedberg


During spring 2001, an ICT project was carried out with 21 participating pupils from three classes in grade 9 at Bosgårdsskolan in the municipality of Varberg, Sweden. The purpose was to develop the pupils' critical and democratic attitudes in order to examine how well pupils at this level can understand and handle these things.

Within the project, the pupils chose among 19 tasks in social studies. They sought and worked with information and delivered the results of their work in oral and written presentations. While they were working with their tasks, a discussion was carried out about which skills are part of a critical attitude towards information sources and the meaning of democratic values, understood as the foundation of values in a democratic society. The purpose was to illuminate the following questions:
- How do pupils, when seeking information, reflect critically about their own learning process?
- How do pupils understand their work and this way of working?
- What does it mean to develop a democratic way of relating to people in a learning context like this one?

Different techniques of collecting data were used to shed light on the questions above, such as daily reports based on participating observations, questionnaires, and the pupils' written presentations. Estimations of the pupils involved were made, based partly on goal-related criteria in curriculum and syllabi, and partly on the categorisation presented in Limberg (199() concerning information seeking skills.

The results show that pupils have a positive attitude to the electronic medium as well as the method in question. Most of the pupils focused on finding facts that could constitute an answer to a chosen question. In some cases, pupils chose the most important information and wrote it down in their own words. Only two out of twenty-one participating pupils were estimated to have reached a level that corresponds to a critical attitude to information sources. The reason for the other pupils' failure to reach this level is that they lack experience in this way of working and that their preparations were insufficient.

The conclusion of this project is that pupils need to start their training in critical thinking as early as possible in their education: to train skills such as discussing, interpreting, comparing, critically examining and evaluating, selecting, and structuring information. It is also desirable that these skills are trained systematically in order for the pupils to develop a critical and democratic attitude towards people and information sources, and that the skills are practised in all school subjects. How this can be accomplished at a practical level in the education constitutes an interesting as well as important research task today.

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