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Students face several challenges when asked to locate relevant and credible information from the internet. This article introduces three principles for designing online inquiry lessons and documents what we learned from five language arts teachers from Finland who implemented and provided feedback on a learning unit framed in those design principles. Teachers implemented a researcher-designed online inquiry unit in nine upper secondary school classrooms. The unit included four 75-minute lessons sequenced to support the location, evaluation, and synthesis of information students encountered in an online inquiry task. Teachers’ diaries revealed their impressions of the unit, problems encountered, and exceptions made to the designed plan. Follow-up interviews revealed additional insights about appropriate time allocation, clear instruction, and areas where students benefit from explicit guidance in strategy use. Findings suggest a researcher-teacher collaboration can be a fruitful endeavor to assist in advancing the design of productive online inquiry activities.

Increasingly, students turn to the internet to seek information to address a problem or complete a learning task. These forms of online inquiry require students to locate relevant and credible information from multiple online resources and build a coherent representation of the explored issue (Leu et al., 2019). Although online inquiry is a common practice, students’ competencies are often under-developed (Brand-Gruwel & van Strien, 2018), resulting in uncritical engagement with online information. Furthermore, many teachers find it challenging to embed instruction of these competencies into their curriculum (Derakhshan & Singh, 2011).

To address these issues, we developed a learning unit designed to intentionally translate relevant theories and design principles into effective classroom practices for teaching online inquiry. Five language arts teachers from Finland collaborated with us to provide initial feedback on the unit; after revisions, they agreed to implement the lessons in nine upper secondary classrooms and reflect on their teaching experiences. In this paper, we describe the theoretical and pedagogical underpinnings of our unit’s design and how it was implemented in classrooms. Then, we share teachers’ reflections about the unit, including ideas for improvements.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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