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INFO 470: Research Methods in Informatics (Fall 2012-Present)

INFO 470 is a core course for the Informatics undergraduate major and is intended to introduce students to a broad range of research methods applicable to the field of informatics. By the end of the course, students will: 1) understand the purpose of research and its relationship to theory, practice, and technological innovation; 2) identify a variety of research methods, their underlying assumptions, and the types of problems they can (and can’t) solve; 3) design an empirical investigation that addresses an unanswered research question; and 4) critically evaluate research published in academic journals and reported on in the news media

LIS 516: Youth Development & Information Behavior in a Digital Age (Spring 2014-Present)

Today’s youth represent the first generation to grow up not knowing a world without the internet, cell phones, or social media. How youth express themselves, communicate with each other, and locate and make use of information looks considerably different than in a pre-digital era. Are these new patterns of behavior reflective of fundamental changes in the processes of human development? If so, are these changes good or bad? How should professionals who work with today’s youth best support them in their personal, social, and academic development?

In this course, students will explore these critical questions by surveying and synthesizing theory and research related to youth development, information behavior, and digital media practices.  Throughout the course, we will explore how sociocultural and economic factors shape youth’s digital media use and information behavior in distinct ways.

The course is intended to provide MLIS students with a foundational understanding of major theories of human development and information behavior and to draw on this understanding to make sense of research on youth’s digital media practices. The knowledge and skills developed in the course are essential for professionals, such as school librarians, who work with and for digital age youth.

INFO 498: Informal Learning in Online Fan Communities (yearlong, 2013-2014)

The purpose of this directed research group is to explore the learning opportunities experienced by youth participants in online fan fiction communities. Applying ethnographic methods to three different fandoms, we are investigating the skills that participants develop through their fan-based activities; the roles that identity, motivation, and emotion play in their informal learning online; and the novice-to-expert trajectories made available in different online fan communities.