“This is my thing!”: Middle years students’ engagement and learning using digital resources

Paul Molyneux, Sally Godinho


It is widely acknowledged that multimodal digital texts  support  student  engagement with  ideas,  knowledge  and  new  forms  of  literate  practice.  With  this  in  mind,  an interdisciplinary team at The University of Melbourne collaborated to create a digitalresource  –  The  Venom  Patrol  website  –  to  teach  scientific  concepts  about  Australia’s venomous  animals  to  middle  years  students  (Years  5-9).  The  website’s  development was  a  response  to  students’  increasing use  of  digital  texts  and  technologies,  and  the need  to  develop  students’  skills  around  being  ‘multiliterate’.  An  inquiry-based pedagogy   sought  to  encourage  interactive  learning  and  to  enhance  student development of scientific literacy. This article reports the findings of a pilot study that investigated student and teacher responses to the functionality and appropriateness of the digital resource for teaching scientific literacy, and for engaging students with the science-based  content.  The  study  revealed  different  teacher  approaches  to  using  the digital  resource  in  the  classroom,  with  varying  levels  of  success.  It  also  found  the students  to  be  critical  and  insightful  users  of  digital  texts  who  welcomed  both  the choices  offered  by  the  non-linear  structure  of  the  resource  and  the  opportunity  this research afforded for their voices to be heard around texts and contexts for learning.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.782