Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Putting on CAPES to Search the Internet: A Framework for Self-Regulated Learning

Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Putting on CAPES to Search the Internet: A Framework for Self-Regulated Learning

Article excerpt


There is little doubt the Internet exerts a tremendous influence on most people's lives. In fact, students report that they spend close to three hours per day online engaged in a variety of tasks, including those that are academically oriented (Ang, Chong, Chye & Huan, 2012). This widespread use of the Internet is causing a shift in students' literacy practices as they show a continuing preference to use technology to engage in reading, writing and communicating (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006). Within this context, the authors feel that we can (and should) access students' natural inclinations to use technology to engage them in authentic investigations and opportunities to apply their knowledge to real-world purposes, thus enabling them to become independent, self-directed learners. Concurrently, teachers' need for practical methods to foster the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for academic success can be supported.

To establish the methods and processes used to reach these outcomes, this article will first outline the growing importance of teaching the strategies associated with online inquiry. Next, a framework for self-regulated learning, CAPES, will be introduced with specific details for using it to develop the skills students need to be successful with online inquiry tasks. An activity focused on exploring significant achievements from ancient Mesopotamia will be used to demonstrate the application of the framework and to show how self-regulation and online inquiry can be combined and integrated within teaching. Finally, additional suggestions for developing students' proficiency with CAPES will be provided.

The importance of online inquiry

As many parts of the world continue to become increasingly dependent on technology for a variety of purposes, the capacity to effectively use the Internet represents an important skill for children to develop. There is a growing body of literature directed towards understanding the methods to achieve this outcome; yet researchers are only beginning to understand the key processes and attitudes necessary to locate, evaluate and organise information on the Internet. As a result, some educators may be left wondering what skills are required for understanding information found online, along with how and why online inquiry needs to be taught differently from traditional literacy skills.

Recent research in online reading comprehension has revealed that literacy skills and strategies used in non-digital environments are no longer sufficient or always effective in online environments (e.g., Coiro, 2011; Hartman, Morsink & Zheng, 2010). Readers must continue to engage in comprehension monitoring and self-reflection, but given Internet text is often non-linear, multimodal and interactive, additional literacy skills and strategies are necessary. These are broadly framed around five key practices:

* developing questions using strategic, goal-directed thinking;

* searching for and locating information relevant to the questions;

* evaluating the suitability of information with respect to purpose and reliability;

* synthesising information from multiple sources; and

* communicating information to an audience (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Castek & Henry, 2013).

Specific keywords in the descriptions of each practice will be referenced throughout the article as phases (e.g., the question phase) and each will be further highlighted within the discussion of the activity incorporating the online inquiry process.

Instruction in the aforementioned online inquiry practices has a number of related benefits, especially the ability to generate questions since online reading regularly begins with a question to answer or a problem to solve (Leu et al., 2013). Students who were taught how to generate questions prior to searching the Internet demonstrated increased conceptual and content knowledge as well as engagement (Castek, 2008; Dwyer, 2010; Kuiper, Volman & Terwel, 2007). …

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