Type of Publication: Article in Collected Edition

Middle School Learners' Conceptions of Social Networks - Results of an Interview Study

Brinda, T.; Kramer, M.; Beeck, Y.
Joy, M.; Ihantola, P.
Title of Anthology:
Proceedings of the 18th Koli Calling Conference on Computing Education Research
ACM Press
New York
Publication Date:
Learner conception, K12, computing education, social network, phenomena, empirical study, interview
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Social networks are widely and increasingly used by youths. Thereby, they experience various computing-related phenomena (such as recommendations for new contacts or interesting content), which might require further explanation. From conception research in science education it is known that such everyday experiences can lead to the formation of individual explanations and conceptions, which do not necessarily have to be in line with underlying scientific concepts. Incomplete or wrong conceptions can lead to difficulties in future learning processes. Therefore, the description and analysis of such conceptions is relevant for computing education, because they can be used by teachers for the development of student-centered classroom activities. Since social network systems are complex computing systems, the investigation of student conceptions had to be limited to selected aspects to keep the study manageable. Therefore, in the study described in this paper, middle school learners' perspectives of personal data processing, data storage and algorithmic processes in social networks were investigated based on the model of educational reconstruction. A total of eight semi-structured interviews with 12 to 14 years-old learners from two grammar schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany, were conducted using an interview guide that focused on the abovementioned computing-related aspects of social networks. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the method of qualitative content analysis according to Mayring. As a result, a number of conceptions could be identified, which were anchored in the technical concepts, but of ten superficial and quite general.