ED4764:The Internet and Education · KSA #01 Contextual Variables · KSA #03 Program of Studies · KSA #04 Subject Knowledge · KSA #05 Differentiation · KSA #07 Student Needs · KSA #10 Technology · KSA #11 Assessment · KSA #16 Vision of Teaching

Research: It Has It’s Place In K-12 Education

In this module we discussed the different facets of research and it’s importance in education. Many students leave High School with a primitive understanding of the logistics of research. We need to make it a focus as educators to model more effective research practices for our students, so that they leave our classrooms prepared for future endeavors with a more diverse and useful skill set.

Lawless and Kulikowich (1998) state that individuals can be placed into three-learner hypertext types the knowledge seeker, feature seeker and apathetic user. At any given time, I show the traits of each and every one of these types. Predominantly I am a knowledge seeker. I typically am not on the Internet for any reason other than to learn something. The only time I am apathetic is when I am on certain Social Media sites and find myself browsing. However, the vast majority of the time I am actively seeking out knowledge components of knowledge.

When I am using search engines I typically begin with the basic search bar, using specific key words and phrases that I know I am interested in for what I am doing. From here, once I have begun to narrow down my findings, I may then go into a more advanced search. Most commonly, I will use an advanced search if there is a specific article I am looking for (perhaps one that was referenced in an article I was reading, that may have valuable information).

Something I did not know was how different the results may be depending on which browser you use. When I searched “chemical bonding” on “SearchO” and “Ixquick” similar results came up, but not exactly the same. I think this is extremely valuable for educators to understand and teach their students. Something as simple as the search engine we choose to use will drastically effect the results we obtain, not even taking into account all the other variables that affect our results. In the TED Talk “The Filter Bubble” Eli Pariser (2011) demonstrates that even using the same search engine on two different computers, will produce different results. Again, this is something that I didn’t realize. Search engines can use your past searches and most frequently visited websites to filter the results they produce. Again, this is a valuable lesson to teach our students.

Knowing this, we need to begin working with students to help them develop a respect for information and all that is out there. One tool, out of many possible options, that could be used to do this is the educational search engine “InstaGrok”. This search engine effectively uses visuals to organize information in a pleasing way to promote student engagement and learning. Key facts, websites, videos, images, quizzes and a glossary are all provided to promote student learning. Perhaps the best feature of this website, even for a concrete sequential learner like myself, is the use of a web to show the connection between the central concept and key facts related to it. By clicking on any key fact, additional related concepts appear to show the intricacies in topics being studied. This graphic organizer will help students to become more engaged in their learning. I’ve already started to think of ways that I could use this search engine with my students in my Fall Internship.

Search engines have drastically changed the way our brains function (Sparrow, Liu, & Wegner, 2011). Research by Sparrow et al. (2011) has shown that people are more likely to forget information that they know is readily available online. Think about all of the knowledge outcomes that we teach our students, which cannot be found online? Are there any? For every knowledge outcome, students can find something about that topic online. What about the skills, attitude and science and society (for science majors) outcomes? Are those as easily found online? With the addition of things like YouTube, it is possible to learn certain lab techniques, but the true skills that are transferable to the “real world” cannot be learned from a simple, or advanced, search. As we progress in education, I think it is important to keep this research in mind.

In each classroom, we should be striving to provide our students will authentic learning opportunities. I believe that the Internet really allows us to provide an authentic learning environment for each and every student. This also helps to move teachers away from being viewed as content curators. Sure, we have a curriculum and there are concepts that the government has mandated students learn. However, I argue that how the student learns the material and in which direction they take this learning in a Performance Task, is where the learning becomes truly authentic. Once this has been achieved, the teacher no longer is controlling the student, but rather their own personal interests are driving their learning towards self-actualization. The buzz of student excitement and passion for learning is what should be driving our classes. This idea is further supported by Sir Ken Robinson (2009) who states that education needs to be transformed through personalization, building on the talents of each child and putting students in an environment where they want to learn and can discover their true passions. We can begin this shift by teaching students how to effectively research what intrigues them, not what we place into a box and call interesting.

We need to continually be asking ourselves, what is it we want our students to be able to do when they leave our classroom? Is it really relevant that they know the VSEPR shape for various molecules? Or are they better off learning critical thinking skills that they can carry forth with them into the workplace, or further education, to make them valuable contributing members to society? I had a brilliant Organic Chemistry Professor at Mount Royal University, who told us that she didn’t care what we could memorize, but rather what we understood and how we applied those understandings was what she felt was truly important; I would argue she had it right.


Lawless, K. A., and Kulikowich, J. M., (1998). Domain Knowledge, Interest, and Hypertext Navigation: A study of individual differences, Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 7(1), 51-69.

Pariser, E. (2011, May). The filter bubble [Video File]. Retrieved July 4, 2013 from http://www.thefilterbubble.com/ted-talk

Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2009). The element: How finding your passion changes everything. New York City, NY:Viking Penguin.

Sparrow, B., Liu, J., and Wegner, D.M. (2011) Google effects on memory: Cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips. Science, 333: 776-778.

Significant Comments: 




6 thoughts on “Research: It Has It’s Place In K-12 Education

  1. Hey Justin,
    I was totally overwhelmed when I realized how many valuable search engines are available and how few of them I have ever used. I think that it’s crazy how certain engines provide different results and how results can differ between peoples personal devices based on browsing histories. After reading your post I tried some more of the engines listed under the topic and saw for myself how results can change and it made me realize how important it is to show students that there is so much more online for them to find information besides Google.
    I really like what you said about teachers moving away from being content curators, we should be leading students to become information seekers providing them with the tools and knowledge to do so. Your comments about authentic learning are really resonating with me I am pushing myself to continue to create methods for students to lead themselves to this point. I will definitely be watching the TED talk you referred to also. The way that we learn is drastically changing though what we can so easily obtain on the internet, knowledge will be based on people’s ability to think critically and creatively about a subject and we as teachers have to provide them with the necessary tools to get them there.

    1. Hi Gen!
      Thanks for your comment. It is really interesting to see how the search engine and/or the compute you use will affect your results. As educators we need to be really cognizant of this so that we can help our students to understand the complexities of the Internet. So many of our students, including me when I left grade school, have no idea what sound research looks like. Moving forward as teachers, to prepare our students effectively for the future, whether they enter post secondary or go straight into a career, we need to teach them how to properly use the Internet properly and to their advantage.
      Yes, I think it is so important that we make the learning authentic for students so that they have the desire to seek out information. This becomes the 40 year learning, or what they will remember long after they leave our classes. This is one of the crucial parts of our job; we need to determine what we want our students to remember until the end of the year, 5, 10 and 40 years later. The knowledge that they seek out and the skills that they develop is what they will remember and ultimately make them contributing members of society. I really hope you enjoy the TED Talk, let me know what you think!

  2. Your comment about the Organic Chem teacher reminded me of a chemistry class I took. When we wrote a test, the teacher would allow us to bring in our own copy of the Periodic Table. On that one sheet of paper, we could write any notes we wanted. We spent so much time writing important things in every blank space, probably more time than we would have spent memorizing. We thought it felt like legal cheating, but the reality was the tests were designed more to test our understanding than what we had memorized. I look back now at what a great teaching strategy this really was.

    I would love to hear about the strategies your Organic Chem teacher used to teach as well as to assess. As a fellow science-teacher-to-be I think teaching for understanding is so much better than teaching for memorization, so I am very interested to learn how teachers have been able to do that successfully in a science class.

    – Jason

    1. Thanks Jason for your comment!
      I remember feeling exactly the same way when I was in that Organic Chemistry class. We too were allowed to take a “cheat sheet” into our final exam. At face value it would appear that made the exam easier, however when it’s truly examined her test was extremely focused on the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy as she didn’t care about our ability to memorize. By allowing us to take the time to understand the content and provide us with this “cheat sheet” we were able to complete synthesis and evaluation questions that we would likely not have been able to do without. This just further demonstrated our ability to reach self-actualization and mastery of the concepts. I would love to be able to effectively apply this concept to my secondary science classes, because it is evident that life-long learning occurred as a result of her brilliant teaching strategy. Our goal as educators should be to mold our students into life-long learners that have developed the skills to be skeptical, contributing members of society who can acquire information and make sound decisions on their own merit.

  3. Hi Justin,

    First of all, WOW nice website! This is definitely one that I will be coming back to take a look at in regards to how a website should be set up! It looks like you have a lot of followers too! Way to go!

    Anyways, on to the topics we are here to discuss! I found interesting your point about using the same search engine on different computers would bring up different results really interesting! It does make sense now that I think about it as well, but its crazy to think that Google or Bing or who ever we decide to use would be able to log all that we have ever searched to see what might fit best for us. If I think about it Google has been tracking me since I was about… 12 maybe younger. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to look at your growth in terms of using Google over your life time? Google has trends for everything, I really wonder what my trend would look like. A bit scary.. now that my brain has switched to all of those crazy sci-fi movies, but I guess with the recent news about the NSA in the United States we may not be that far off.

    I also really liked your section about your professor and what she had to say. I have always found that my classes that I have taken where I applied what I was being taught that I was so much more successful in these courses. My education courses are the main ones, but I also remember my classes at SAIT where I got my diploma from being the best classes out of my whole B.Mgt/B.Ed degree. They were hands on, interesting, they pushed you to perform what you were learning with your own personality infused into it. It was projects and real life information that I have used time and time again. I felt that university courses were more read this, learn exactly this, and then tell me what I want to hear about what I just told you. It is devastating to me that this is the way most universities decide to have their learning structured. I feel like University should be the BEST place for you to figure out who you are, what you love, and why you love it with other people who are the same and different. I am grateful that I was able to do my B.Mgt and my B.Ed at the same time because without those breaks, and Ed classes while doing other Management classes I would have gone crazy!! It really is how you apply the process and information you are using and not just spitting it back out.

    Thanks for the post and I am excited to explore your blog!

    1. Hi Mary,

      Thank you very much for your comment and kind words!

      I never really thought about what it would be like to look at my growth until now, but yes I agree with you it would be extremely interesting! It’s amazing to me that we can use a tool, such as a computer/search engine (something that each of us really take for granted as people of the 21st century) to learn something about ourselves and our habits. You could go back in time and look at your digital footprint and likely re-live so many experiences and learn so much about yourself. It would definitely be a cool activity; I wonder if we would like what we find?

      Definitely, the practical classes are the best ones. It is crucial for us to make the learning for our students authentic, which can be done by allowing students to infuse their personality into their products, as you have discussed with respect to your past experiences. I agree the university system is quite contradictory to what we are learning in our education classes. This makes me wonder if we are providing a disservice to our students by trying to revolutionize the way that the K-12 curriculum is taught. When students get to university their courses are delivered purely as lectures and assessments are exams, most commonly entirely multiple choice exams. Will our students leave our classrooms with the necessary skills to succeed in the rigorous post secondary environment? I am not saying that we shouldn’t critically evaluate our current teaching and assessment practices and adopt ones that enhance student learning in K-12, I very much so agree with the shifts we are seeing in education; but I do believe we need to be skeptical and ensure that we are preparing our students to be as successful as they can be whether they choose to pursue post secondary or a career after they graduate high school.

      Thanks again,

Leave a Reply to Jason Salmon Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s