Title page for ETD etd-11022008-175503

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Johnson, Gail Lorraine
Author's Email Address gjohns9@lsu.edu
URN etd-11022008-175503
Title The Effects of Cross-Age Mentoring in an Online Collaborative Environment
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Educational Theory, Policy, & Practice
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
S. Kim MacGregor Committee Chair
Janice M. Hinson Committee Member
Margie Thomas Committee Member
Yiping Lou Committee Member
Krisanna Machtmes Dean's Representative
  • information literacy
  • information commitment
  • scaffolding
  • Big 6 Skills Information Model
  • collaborative learning
  • critical thinking skills
  • K-12 and higher education
Date of Defense 2008-10-23
Availability unrestricted

This mixed method research was designed to examine the effects of cross-age mentoring in an inter-institutional online learning community. The research questions focused on the impact of mentoring on high school studentsí confidence in their information seeking skills, perceptions of their information seeking standards, and the application of these standards to an information seeking task. Also of interest was the dialogic interaction between the students at the two sites, the impact of the facilitator on the process, and the university studentsí perceptions about their experience.

The participants included 26 students (mentees) enrolled in an American history class at a rural high school and 18 pre-service teachers (mentors) enrolled in an introductory educational technology course. Mentoring groups comprised of four-five high school students and three-four pre-service teachers interacted via a synchronous online courseware system. Both classes met at the same time of the day, twice weekly, allowing for synchronous interactions. The project was implemented over a five week period during which pre- and post-tests of information seeking confidence and standards were administered and students were engaged in their information seeking tasks. During the course of the project the online interactions were archived and saved for later analysis.

Results revealed that there was no change in the high school studentsí confidence in their information seeking abilities. The assessment of their evaluative standards revealed that they became more aware of the importance of evaluating the accuracy of information they located. In addition, a positive correlation was found between their understandings of the importance of evaluating information to determine its relevance to the task at hand and the disposition toward a more expert approach to seeking information. Performance on the information seeking task was positively influenced by conceptual scaffolding provided by both the facilitator and the pre-service teachers. Feedback that encouraged the high school students to consider conceptual issues was discovered to be most effective. The findings from this research contribute to the literature on cross-age mentoring between higher education and K-12 students as well as providing insights about strategies that influence studentsí abilities to locate, evaluate, and synthesize information.

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