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Assessing Information Utilization for Transforming Knowledge: An Applied Method for Informal Educational Settings
Nora J. Bird
ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008
The impact of quality information resources on transforming the knowledge base of lifelong learners is an important subject of inquiry for Information Science. The present mixed method study examined statements written in answer to open-ended questions before and two weeks after a Web searching exercise and coded them for structure as Facts, Explanations, or Implications. Participants at libraries and adult education centers rated the Websites that were chosen for quality and credibility using the Website Quality Evaluation Tool (WQET). Those participants who perceived their chosen Websites to be of low quality were more likely to write Fact based statements on the Follow-up. Those who looked at perceived higher quality Websites wrote Implications statements. The results show that relational statement analysis can be a valuable tool to evaluate the effectiveness of Websites as informal learning objects. It also indicates that quality of Web resources does influence the complexity of relational statement production and the ability to reason about a topic. The method could be used to study the transformative impact of any self-chosen resources on learning unfamiliar topics, such as those involving science and health. It could be used with high school students, adult education students, and lifelong learners as they learn to evaluate and analyze information sources for their utilization.
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