University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Rich Gazan has been awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant for the project Online Q&A in STEM Education: Curating the Wisdom of the Crowd. The project received $491,973 in funding. Gazan is an associate professor in the College of Natural Sciences’ Department of Information and Computer Sciences.
In partnership with Chirag Shah at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, the three-year project will investigate how combining crowdsourced information with the quality assessment standards of librarians and other information professionals can enhance the experience of students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
A 2013 analysis of 28 million course papers revealed that social networking and other user-generated content sites were cited in 23 percent of the papers written by college students. This is especially concerning for STEM learners, where the need to scaffold understanding with factual, trustworthy information is paramount.
Meaningful STEM education is not simply discovering and applying facts—it also requires an understanding of the process of inquiry and the conversations surrounding those facts, which is the essence of online Q&A. While all students must learn to assess the quality of their information sources, those who consult online Q&A sites may be engaging in processes of inquiry and discovering nontraditional yet valuable content appropriate to their learning objectives.
Gazan’s project will explore how both formal and informal information literacy can be effectively integrated into STEM education. Principal Investigator Shah and the Rutgers team will develop and test an online Q&A content assessment tool, while Co-Principal Investigator Gazan’s team will be involved in formative design and evaluation and will field test the tool in STEM learning environments in Hawaiʻi.