Collaborative Online Inquiry: Exploring Students’ Skills in Locating, Reading, and Communicating Information
This study examines third, fourth, and fifth grade students’ reasoning that was captured as they engaged collaboratively in a teacher designed inquiry task. This task focused on choosing eco-friendly toys for a fictitious local toy store. Results indicated that students were more expressive with reasoning when they shared their ideas orally, but were less apt to include reasoning in their digital writing. This pattern of results suggests the benefits of pairing talk with writing, grouping students to work collaboratively during online inquiry, and teaching ways to construct digital writing that supports the inclusion of hyperlinks, the integration of images, and other means of connecting digital reading and writing. These digital affordances provide tangible ways for students to include reasoning and evidence within their writing and can bolster their persuasive and argument writing. Recommendations for instruction are offered as well as design considerations for online inquiry tasks.