Co-creation of Knowledge in Technology-Enhanced Communities of Learning

Studies

Studies

Studies

Contemporary society faces a paradox: Although access to information is prevalent, information is inaccessible, because it is massive, conflicting, indeterminate, and requires specialized knowledge. This paradox raises key questions for researchers who study cognition, because it demands that lay people utilize knowledge and skills that traditionally have been the realm of scientists and other specialized experts. Specifically, understanding of evidence entails understanding of scientific disciplinary practices and norms. Moreover, integrating conflicting evidence is necessary for generating counter-arguments and reaching decisions. The way people think about knowledge and knowing (epistemic thinking) plays a central role in learning and reasoning processes with online information sources (e.g., Barzilai & Zohar, 2012). For example, people who think that they have to justify their claims, will tend to weigh evidence from multiple online information sources. Thus, productive evaluation and integration of multiple information sources requires knowledge of scientific standards and practices (e.g., Asher, Nasser, Ganaim, & Tabak, 2010). It is not clear whether laypeople have the requisite knowledge and skills to use online information sources that report scientific evidence productively in everyday decisions. Therefore, we need to understand how laypeople engage in such tasks and which factors facilitate or impede these processes. Our research program aims to advance our knowledge of such factors.

Our research is set in the context of health decision making. Health information is a common search goal among laypeople. People searching for health information seek to answer their health-related questions and to make informed health decisions. However, they are often overwhelmed by the amount of information and by conflicting evidence. Moreover, low-quality health websites are as common as high-quality health websites (Kienhues, Bromme et al., 2008).

We examine how laypeople utilize scientific evidence from multiple online information sources to make science-related decisions. Specifically, we study how individuals interpret, evaluate, and integrate evidence from multiple online information sources in the process of health decision-making. We investigate the ways in which people attend to the reporting of findings and experimental designs, and how interpretation of evidence and experimental procedures figure in decision-making. Additionally, we examine the role of epistemic thinking in reasoning about evidence and science-related decision-making. We employ Kuhn and Weinstock’s theoretical framework to examine views of knowledge and knowing (Kuhn & Weinstock, 2002; Weinstock, 2006).