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Enhancement of spatial ability in girls in a single-sex environment through spatial experience and the impact on information seeking.

Description: The test scores of spatial ability for women lag behind those of men in many spatial tests. On the Mental Rotations Test (MRT), a significant gender gap has existed for over 20 years and continues to exist. High spatial ability has been linked to efficiencies in typical computing tasks including Web and database searching, text editing, and computer programming. The relationships between the components of visuospatial ability and performance are complex. However, research strongly indicates that a connection exists, and further research is necessary to determine the interactions between the variables of environment, genetics, and spatial training. Spatial experience can enhance spatial skills. However, to what extent spatial skills can be enhanced in female adolescents through a spatial curriculum to reduce the gap in scores has not been fully researched, nor has the impact of spatial skill on information seeking. This research project investigated spatial skill in adolescent females by examining (1) the extent to which the intervention of teaching a spatial curriculum in a single-sex setting could improve mental rotation test scores, and (2) the impact of spatial skills on an information seeking task in a single-sex setting. The extent to which a spatial visualization curriculum can improve MRT scores from a pretest to a posttest for girls was the first factor examined using a spatial visualization curriculum. The information seeking task used 4 tasks from a doctoral study and utilized the scholarly journal database JSTORĀ® (JSTOR, Ann Arbor, MI, www.jstor.org).
Date: December 2008
Creator: Swarlis, Linda L.

Globally Distributed Agile Teams: An Exploratory Study of the Dimensions Contributing to Successful Team Configuration

Description: Drawing upon configurational theory, work group design research, virtualness concepts, and the software agility literature, the purpose of this study was to provide a starting point for theorizing about the successful configuration of globally distributed agile teams by exploring the dimensions of team structure, virtualness, and agility. Due to the complex nature of this topic, the need to examine the phenomenon within its natural setting, and the limited amount of research that has been conducted in this particular area, this study adopted an embedded multiple-case research design. The primary data collection method consisted of semi-structured interviews involving members of globally distributed agile teams within three U.S. based organizations with members located in distributed sights in multiple countries. Additional data were collected from archival records. Within-case and cross-analysis was conducted using qualitative data analysis software. This study provides a starting point for answering the question of how the configuration of globally distributed agile teams differs from the configuration of other types of globally distributed teams; it synthesizes past research and findings into a comprehensive theoretical framework; it provides a starting point for theorizing about the successful configuration of globally distributed agile teams; it helps practitioners to identify and address the challenges related to the configuration of globally distributed agile teams; and it presents a set of best practices which will inform organizations on how to configure their globally distributed agile teams.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Sharp, Jason H.

The representation of national political freedom on web interface design: A comparison of government-based and business-oriented websites.

Description: The purpose of this study is to explore the representation of national political freedom on web interface design by using power distance, one of the culture dimensions identified by Geert Hofstede, as a measurement. This study also aims to determine if there are any differences between government-based websites and business-oriented websites in representing national political freedom. A pilot study was conducted to validate ten power distance indicators identified from previous research on cultural dimensions with the intent of establishing a measurement for determining a country's national political freedom on web content and interface design. The result showed that six out of ten proposed indicators are valid power distance indicators. The seventh indicator, symmetric layout, demonstrated that its Web representation correlates with national political freedom level. Consequently, the principal research applied these seven indicators in coding 312 websites selected from 39 countries and analyzed national political freedom represented on these websites with content analysis method. The result of two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated that large differences exist in web interface design, which in turn reflects the aforementioned national political freedom. The research showed that the mean effect of freedom level between free-country group, partly-free-country group and not-free-country group was statistically significant (p = .003). So was the mean effect of website type between government-based and business-oriented websites (p = .000). Furthermore, the interaction between the freedom level and website type was also significant (p = .041). Therefore, we conclude that web interface design represents a country's political freedom and government-based websites embody more of a nation's authority and supremacy than business-oriented websites do. It is expected that this study furthers our exploration in culture dimensions on web interface design and advances our knowledge in sociological and cultural studies of the web.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Li, Rowena Liu-ping

The transformative library: A narrative inquiry into the outcomes of information use.

Description: This qualitative study uses narrative analysis to explore the outcomes of information seeking and use among public library users. Twelve women between the ages of 51 and 72, all residents of Fayetteville, Arkansas who self-identified as regular library users, were interviewed to gather their life stories and their experiences using the public library. The participants in this study used information to enable learning and, often, a change in their affective state. The participants used the new information they encountered constructively, to engage with the knowledge and experience they possessed; this use of information always involved reflection, dialogue, or both. The outcomes from these actions are the creation of new knowledge, a change in the participants' meaning schemes, and/or an affective change. In addition, the narratives strongly suggest that information seeking and use by adults in public libraries can sometimes facilitate or, on its own, precipitate a perspective transformation and the adoption of new meanings. Overall, the findings support Mezirow's theory of transformative learning as a model for understanding information use and outcomes among users of the public library. The major implications of this study are two-fold. One, it introduces to information science Mezirow's theory of transformative learning which could provide greater understanding of how adults use information, and the outcomes that arise from this use. Two, it provides library professionals with information about the library in the lives of their users and concrete information about how libraries can enable transformative learning.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Kenney, Brian

Affordances of External Representations in Instructional Design: The Effect of Narrative and Imagery in Learning.

Description: Consisting of both theoretical and empirical inquires, this study examines the primary functions of narrative and the relationship between narrative and mental imagery. The study proposes a new framework to interpret semiotic resources. Combining this with the linguistic functional theory of Halliday (1978), a functional method to empirically investigate semiotic representations was also developed. In the empirical inquiry, the study developed a latent construct method to empirically test the effects of narrative in a real learning situation. This study is the first to investigate the functional relationship between narrative and mental imagery, and among the first to suggest a theory and empirically investigate representations of a multimodal nature. The study is also among the first to use latent constructs to investigate the learning experience in a real educational setting. Data were collected from 190 library professionals who enrolled in three sections (two in narrative and one in plain text) of an online course administered through Vista 4.0 and who completed the course and responded to several instruments. Essay data (n = 82 x 2) were analyzed using content analysis based on the narrative analysis framework developed. Quantitative data analysis methods include univariate data analysis, factor analysis, and structural equation modeling that tests the proposed model and verifies the relationships between the latent variables. Overall, the findings support the hypotheses about the functional effects of narrative identified, and narrative is found to provide a favorable and positive learning context which is tested by the proposed model of learning experience measured by several latent constructs (X2 = 31.67, df = 47, p = .9577, RMSEA = .00, SRMR = .047, NNFI = 1.05, CFI = 1.00, and GFI = .94). The results indicate that participants who enrolled in the narrative sections of the course gained higher creative scores and showed better results ...
Date: December 2008
Creator: Wu, Yan