The effects of goal instructions and source representation scaffolds on college students’ information evaluation and argumentation in a general education biology course
Kim, So Mi
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Online inquiry and argumentative writing constitute important academic tasks. Effective argumentation relies on evidence quality, grounded reasoning, and conceptual integration (Brem & Rips, 2000; Clark & Sampson, 2008), which can be enhanced by careful, deliberate information evaluation. This dissertation research aimed to examine mental tasks and conditions to activate seasoned information evaluation during argumentation based inquiry. Naïve task perceptions, lack of cue recognition, and cognitive load were addressed. Accordingly, source representation scaffolds and goal instructions were devised and implemented to test the effects in the college science classrooms. Source representation scaffolds aimed to model reflection over complex source properties while compensating cognitive capacity. The intervention included an annotation tool (treatment) and a checklist (control). Goal instructions were intended to induce critical task perceptions along with higher evaluation standards and efforts. The intervention included balanced reasoing goals (treatment) and persuasion goals (control). Three manuscripts are included in this dissertation. Chapter 2 delineates the theoretical framework underpinning information evaluation scaffolds development and research. Chapter 3 reports findings from a longitudinal, quasi-experimental study that examines the effects of scaffolds on college students’ self-reported information evaluation behavior change. Chapter 4 presents mixed methods research findings that examine whether and how source representation scaffolds and goal instructions influence information evaluation skills to improve argumentation quality. The results indicated that both goal instructions and source representation scaffolds treatment increased information evaluation behavior. However, goal instructions did not have direct effects on argumentation quality. Source representation demonstrated significant effects only when the annotation tool was combined with balanced reasoning goals and for students in heterogeneous knowledge groups. The findings together supported the synergistic integration of two scaffolding functionality, yet suggested addressing possible difficulties in using scaffolds and sustaining the effects in the complex classroom situations. The dissertation concludes with implications of the study and future research directions (Chapter 5).