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Title: Developing reflective engagement in the use of online digital devices : a mulitple case study of seven year olds and their home-school contexts
Author: Tarling, Georgina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 5810
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2017
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Children in the UK today live in an increasingly mediatised world. With rapid evolution in mobile technologies they are faced from an increasingly young age with a plurality of choices at the level of device, mode and platform. Research argues that this landscape can offer exciting and empowering ways for children to learn, socialise and create, but that it also poses challenges in terms of wellbeing and relationships with information. Understanding how to support children to engage with devices healthily, critically and constructively has therefore attracted research attention across a number of disciplines from media education and online safety through information behaviour to new literacies. In some respects this has led to a proliferation and fragmentation of ‘literacies’ that can be overwhelming to navigate. However, bringing them into dialogue it is possible to find some common ground around what reflective engagement might look like. There is also agreement across these disciplines that in order to develop responsive ways of encouraging and supporting reflective engagement more research attention needs to be paid to the messy realities of children’s situated practices. Bringing this bottom-up research into dialogue with a tentative definition of reflective engagement based on existing models and ideas from the literature was the aim of the present study. The study was initially informed by learning ecology perspectives that situate children’s practices within a set of different contexts. Using this as a heuristic framing device the study explored the shaping of children’s engagement through a number of different lenses: material, socio-emotional, pedagogical and cultural. Using a case study approach I spent time with seven children, their families and their peers across home and school settings. In so doing I sought to generate rich qualitative data about practices, the aspects of context shaping them and the emergent understanding and reflection arising around them from both children’s and adults’ perspectives. Thematic analysis of this data brought insights that built on the tentative characterisation of reflective engagement I began with. However, the findings also revealed some challenges and ‘entry points’ in terms of reflective engagement that hadn’t been anticipated. Synthesising these entry points under the notions of practices, spaces, resources and roles I shifted gear from exploratory to pragmatic and adopted the over-arching concept of ‘sponsors’ of reflective engagement as way of moving forward. The thesis concludes with the suggestion that identifying or creating ‘sponsors of reflective engagement’ could be a dynamic and constructive way of mobilising the assets and addressing the needs of a primary school community.
Supervisor: Kleine-Staarman, Judith Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Digital literacy ; children