Six of the eight possible responses have been selected by a similar number of respondents with only slight variations (from 14,39% to 20,64%). Too much work for selection of sources has indeed much to do with the little relevance of the real world and the importance of the assignment itself. This contextual similarity and cause-effect relatedness might help explain why do these answers form a relatively homogeneous group. When the assignment is assessed as too academic and not practical, it is even more decisively disliked by learners. Again, this response, with its 20%, may be attributed to the described group of interconnected answers.
The least disliked item in the process of collaboration seems to be the need to look for sources. Perhaps this could be explained with the fact that this activity is well-established within the educational context, also as part of the team assignments.
On the other end, with a striking percentage of 56,69, is obviously the most common reason to dislike collaboration. Time-pressure may be interpreted as a leading explanation why learners dislike assignments in general; what a difference it makes to collaboration though? Thinking deeply may help to reveal another possible motive or even deficit – lack of appropriately developed skills to work in a team, which employ efficient time-distribution and therefore assure for keeping deadlines without the stress, caused by time pressure. In other words, here we have a good example of the importance of feedback as it allows for identifying real needs. And this need is also confirmed by nearly 20% (19,69%) of our respondents, who claim to dislike the need to work in teams.
Seven out of eight responses fall within a comparatively narrow margin (23,29-39,17%). They are all about building skills and capabilities, which explains the least popular answer as being the only one of a more abstract nature. It takes the respondent to another, more abstract level, where a certain projection is needed and therefore a straightforward answer may not immediately follow. Quite surprisingly (or not), the prize-winner in this category is the need to work in teams. This throws a shadow of doubt on the veracity of the earlier conclusion that we made about the explicit need to build teamwork skills; or may be just the opposite – confirms it in the wishful thinking of respondents (or at least some 39,17% of them).
The answers at the cross-section between these two questions reflects the prevailing profile of participants in the survey – involved in secondary education. Still, it is obvious that the trend towards realising the need to verify one’s sources grows in parallel to the educational level, to become mostly pronounced among university students. This may result from the fact that university students do much of the learning on their own, constantly busy with various assignments, some of which seriously affecting the academic degrees. However, this may as well be interpreted as yet another insufficiency at earlier stages of education. After all, the verified and reliable source of information is of equal importance to any educational activity and regardless of learners’ age. While at university it may as well lead closer to the purity of a future academic research, at earlier stages it is critical to forming attitudes and building information-literacy skills. Here we end up with a more solid recognition of this fact on behalf of our respondents, too – the prevailing answers at the university level are “important” and “very important” (261 in total), with just few ones still hesitating on “don’t know” and “not important at all” (27 in total).
The doughnut diagram shows the prevalence of positive answers, with the really tiny exception of some 0,68% who 'dare' say that there is no correspondence to expectations whatsoever. There might be multitudinous interpretations of this data, starting with the inevitable flexibility of educators who adjust to realities and are ready to promote any effort made in the name of learning. The other exceptional slot of 5,64% – those who claim an entirety of correspondence – are a bit suspicious, with the background (93,68% in total) in mind. They might be attributed to (1) either a more authoritative style of teaching, with the teacher giving as strict instruction as possible (i.e. a list of sources), or (2) to learners who are excelling to the level that meets all teacher’s requirements. To obtain more information, the question should be placed within a further specified context, such as subject areas or forms of education (distance learning, generative learning, etc.)
This question, addressed to learners, is key to De Facto conception. The diagram demonstrates a relatively high percentage of learners (46,03%) who follow their teachers’ suggested lists of sources. This may be out of respect, or due to a lack of initiative or motivation to extend the search. Almost the same sized slice of respondents (46,44%) answer that they prefer a list of their own. It would be interesting to know how this ratio (currently almost 1:1) will change over a period of time, with improved information literacy on both sides. We can consider as alarming the still persisting (about 30% in total) sources like family members and other social circles. Such sources may (although not as a rule) very often be contaminated with mis- and disinformation and should have their role in educational context under condition. It is worth the effort of educators for this to be properly explained, and even trained in learners while building their information literacy. The results of our survey clearly show the need for such a teaching/training intervention.
Teacher training is still predominantly in the realm of formal education. Only 51 respondents (out of 442 in total and coming from all educational levels) answer that they have not undergone formal teacher training. This may correspond to a national system allowing for non-formal teacher training. Obviously, this is still an exception (at least within the scope of our partnership).
These results are not a surprise and we show them here to bring attention to the possibility to analyse data subsets and look for statistically meaningful differenced in teachers' practices and attitudes which may be attributed to the type and direction of the formal teacher-training programmes.
Officially (as per the results of our survey), the teachers assess learners' assignments in a manner heavily based on choice and quality of information sources (65,69%) and accuracy of the used/referred information (73,36%). So far accuracy marginally dominates over choice and quality of sources – this may be a reminiscence of times when accuracy was a standard feature for all printed materials, incl. textbooks. Or it may as well implicate that, regardless of the source, what really matters is the information to be accurate. Perhaps it is essential for educators to keep an eye on the slot of negative answers here as it should not be allowed to increase – rather, there should be conscious effort and/or systemic interventions to bring that percentage down.
A bit over 70% of the surveyed teachers confirm that they verify the sources of information after the assignment is submitted to them. This sounds very optimistic, as it shows that a significant part of educators do consider sources to be of great importance.
Nevertheless, we still do not know what do they mean by “verify” – is it just a check of compliance with the suggested list and does it also include verification of sources selected by the learners themselves? How about checking different types of sources, drawing on the online abundance of today? It’s worth the effort to further explore this aspect as to see what could be the possible implications of applying De Facto tool kit to source-checking in educational environment.
The results here are not easy to be discussed with certainty. It is quite obvious that the visualisation is somewhat “flat” with better pronounced variables only with the areas of humanities and education science.
On the one hand, we work with a limited selection of educational fields which cannot be balanced and representative due to the peculiarities of the survey (see Introduction above). Another key to the situation is the nature of assignments, bound to the specifics of the field (for example a practical assignment to draw something may not be that dependent on the sources, as opposed to one built around statistical data on consumer preferences). On the other hand, this may come to say that those who include sources as part of the assignment tend to consider it rather important that the sources are verified. This reconfirms the solid ground of De Facto’s pro-educational bias.
Books (57%), scientific publications (52%) and educational videos (43%) are by far the most preferred sources recommended by our responding educators. This may be considered a 'classical' teacher’s inclination within the well-established social framework, expecting teachers to be knowledgeable and somewhat 'bookwormish'. If we were to take 'educational videos' in their modern sense of use (generated by new technologies) then there is a hope that teachers are also up-to-date with technological developments.
This is somewhat proved by the second (in terms of votes by respondents) group of sources: dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and quite surprisingly in their company, shared platforms of user generated content. Blogs (9%) and oral sources (8%) may seem alarmingly popular, if we again consider the high probability that they very often disseminate opinions rather than facts. But let’s consider them safe on condition that they may be relevant to certain contexts alone, such as to broaden the information and present alternative viewpoints which could later be subjected to learning activities related to critical thinking, fact-checking and source-checking.
The comparison between educators and learners along this line is quite challenging, and yet intriguing. There is hardly any surprise that these are educators who prefer books (be it in print or digital), as this has been the case forever. Nonetheless, the two groups share almost the same interest for video platforms and online magazines. This could be an example of a 'normalisation' of videos as mainstream educational medium and resource, as educational videos have had several decades of histor of use in schools already, with the technology shifting only recently to allowing more rapid and easy creation and distribution than we used to have with video tapes and video-players attached to TVs in classrooms well before the internet era.
Respondents seem unanimous in their least preferred source, which are the podcast libraries (probably because of their comparative recency they haven’t gained enough popularity yet). Learners are more interested in online news sites (43%) than in print media (11%), whereas educators are still split between the two (26% and 24% respectively). These are significant differenece.
These comparisons really matter as they bring forward an important takeaway: whatever intervention in educational context is planned to increase information literacy, both groups, of educators and learners, are to be taken equally into consideration. They are two connected gears of the same engine, the smooth running of which depends on their effective teamwork.
According to the results of our survey, cross-checking is the first most preferred way to verify sources of information, closely followed by comparing information to previous knowledge. At the bottom of the scale is asking family members, slightly outrun by placing a question online.
The overall picture outlined can be interpreted as fruitful grounds for further building skills and competence to fight mis- and disinformation. It reveals that regardless of educational level attained, the majority of respondents may not be difficult to convince in the benefits of source-checking. With fact-checking websites placed in the middle, we are even further reassured that the target group of educators consists of sober-thinking individuals, not readily taking for granted any novelty that the fast developing world is to serve.
This is one of our cross-check questions (graph of the twin question?). Obviously the votes are split in two, which gives solid grounds for a fierce debate, a real clash of pros and cons. What a pity we don’t know the genuine reasons why; but if we forget “the quality over quantity” statement, we may assume that specifying the number of sources comes closer to a source-checking strategy (with a demand to check information through multiple sources). Whereas the opposite relates “whatever comes” and therefore has not much to do with an elaborated and objective-oriented teaching intervention. Without any further research this remains just a speculation, though.
As many as 39% of the responding educators provide the sources themselves. This may be highly relevant at earlier stages of education, when learners have not yet developed sufficiently the skills to search, select, review, apply sources independently.
Another 68% work with recommended, but not mandatory sources and a cross-check is needed to see whether these are educators at upper-secondary or university level. At the end of the day, the presentation of this dichotomy could probably be attributed to the personal style of teaching or training.
Nevertheless, the nearly negligible 7% of blacklisted sources is of utmost importance to the field of building information literacy. Potentially, and should interventions like De Facto be successful, this percentage will grow over time - with the growing number of educators who apply fact-checking techniques, and parallel to the overwhelmingly growing amount of fake news flooding our information channels.
At the level of secondary education the prevailing assignment takes up to 2 hours. Going up the educational scale the workload increases, quite expectedly, to reach the maximum for university students. The most evenly stratified (i.e. all categories of workload are presented) is the adult vocational education.
The amount of time spent on an assignment is directly relatable to the quality and number of sources as well as the verification process. It also may reveal the appropriate target group for teaching/training in the field of mis- and disinformation within each level of education. The idea is that the efforts could be more meaningful if focused on those who select the sources, be they educators or learners. When it comes to assignments, of course.
Well, the two almost perfectly matching diagrams confirm that the assignment as such is a tool recognised by either of the two main counterparts in the educational process. Drawing on that, assignment could be “borrowed” and used in different project methodologies to profit from its educational opportunities and value.