Using Web-Based Tools to Support Source Work and Inquiry in Social Studies

Project Number
OER 51/08 MB

Project Duration
June 2009 - September 2013


This project investigates the ways secondary social studies teachers and students develop key inquiry and literacy practices with digital sources of information as they investigate global issues in Singapore's Social Studies curriculum. The project builds on and extends previous research about the ways social studies teachers and students use technology tools to analyze, interpret, and evaluate information. To this point, the extant research focuses on the ways learners think about credibility of information, evaluate competing claims and evidence, identify techniques used by authors to influence readers, mobilize existing knowledge to understand information, and synthesize findings in interpretive accounts. A crucial next step is to examine the ways teachers and learners engage with complex multimodal web-based texts in inquiry-based learning environments. This project takes this next step. The project will utilize an existing set of web-based tools, the Critical Web Reader (CWR), to better understand the kinds of skills and knowledge necessary to work with the range of information sources found on the Internet and how this work can be leveraged to support subject matter understanding in social studies education. The CWR provides teachers and students with analytical, interpretive, and evaluative ''lenses'' to scaffold their interactions with online sources and texts. Specifically, these lenses will support teachers and students in the six target skills in Singapore's Social Studies curriculum: making inferences, evaluating reliability, evaluating utility, evaluating claims, comparing and contrasting sources, and constructing evidence-based explanations. The project uniquely situates this work in a five-phase inquiry framework to guide teachers' and students' work with varied digital source materials and texts. In doing so, the project demonstrates important connections between disciplined forms of inquiry, source work, and the new literacies and forms of critical thinking necessary for functioning in increasingly complex, diverse, and multimodal digital environments. The CWR also saves all participants' work (teachers and students) as they work through the five-phase inquiry process. This will facilitate data collections and management. The research will yield key insights into the ways social studies teachers and students in Singapore critically evaluate digital sources/texts to deepen understandings about challenging global issues, such as transnational terrorism, international conflict, and sustainable development.

Research Themes

Funding Source

Related Links
NIE Research Brief Series 13-006: using Web-based tools to Support Source Work and Inquiry in Social Studies
ReEd Vol 1: A Critical Resource for Web-based Teaching

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