The Role of the Narrative Framing and Latent Meaning Structures of Online Information Used by Medical and Economics Students in Their Generic and Domain-Specific Critical Online Reasoning

In the Information Age, students increasingly learn with online sources. In these sources, content is “framed” in a particular way through narrative devices (e.g. metaphors) and latent meaning structures. Such framing can influence the search for online information as well as its critical processing, as became evident in previous studies concerning the solving of generic (GEN) and domain-specific (DOM) tasks to measure critical online reasoning (COR). Hence, students need specific skills to recognize such latent frames.

Based on preliminary research, B06 aims to (1) analyze the narrative and latent meaning structures of the online information used by students (when solving the COR tasks); and (2) study whether students recognize these latent structures, i.e., are aware of narrative and meaning structures. In this way, B06 investigates so-called ‘narrative skills’ in students’ learning through the Internet; (3) examine whether narratives and meaning structures influence the COR process (e.g., the selection of information), and (4) longitudinally investigate the role of students’ narrative skills for their solving of GEN- and DOM-COR-tasks in medicine and economics. (5) Based on these findings, B06 further aims to develop a framework for interventions designed to enhance students’ COR by considering their narrative skills.

B06 combines the qualitative method of narratology with reconstructive hermeneutics and draws on the approaches of narrative medicine and narrative economics. Based on the longitudinal subdata set from C07, B06 analyzes the online sources and content used by students to solve COR tasks. The process of students’ task-solving is reconstructed step-by-step, to identify whether students recognized the framings present in the sources. The analysis of students’ response processes is supported through the analysis of eye-tracking data and think-aloud protocols (together with C07).

B06 retraces students’ COR task-solving process and describes the role that narrative skills may potentially have in this process. Therefore, B06 first identifies narratives and meaning structures, which can hamper or stimulate students’ COR processes and performance. These analyses and findings provide a solid basis for the conceptual development of interventions to foster students’ COR skills (in the 2nd research phase).

B06 cooperates with B04 and B05 in the analysis of the information landscape and in identifying important influences in online sources, which may be especially challenging for students. With the help of a detailed analysis of student responses and task-solving processes, B06 generates hypotheses for recalibrating the COR-tasks of the A-projects.