"There is a lot to practice". A nexus analytical study on promoting multiliteracy in health education

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Kontinkangas, Pharmacology Lecture Hall, F202 (Aapistie 5)

Topic of the dissertation

"There is a lot to practice". A nexus analytical study on promoting multiliteracy in health education

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts (Education) Tuula Nygård

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Education, Learning and Learning Processes

Subject of study

Education

Opponent

Doctor of Philosophy (Education) Carita Kiili, Tampere University

Custos

Professor Riitta-Liisa Korkeamäki, University of Oulu

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Confusing and contradictory health communication requires a wide range of literacy skills

Tuula Nygård's dissertation addresses the promotion of students' information seeking and evaluation in secondary school health education. The results of the research indicate that health information is more readily available than ever, but its critical evaluation has become increasingly difficult, even for teachers and health professionals. Contemporary health communication and changing media environments create new competence needs that must be taken into account in teaching. In her research, Nygård examined how health education teachers guided their students to seek information, to evaluate critically information sources, and to make choices between them.

The research revealed that information seeking and evaluation should be viewed with students from the perspective of multiliteracy, as they need the ability to explain, evaluate, and produce texts in different communication channels and media. Multiliteracy is based on a broad conception of text that includes verbal, visual, aural, numeric, and kinesthetic symbols, as well as combinations of all of these. It is one of the transversal competence objectives in the Finnish National Core Curriculum for basic education. Therefore, multiliteracy should be considered in all learning and in all subjects, as it is needed in the interpretation of multimodal as well as culturally and linguistically diverse texts.

The methodological strategy of this thesis is nexus analysis. From the observational data of health education lessons, emerge the discussions between the teacher and the students in group work situations when they discussed information seeking and evaluated the credibility of information. The data show the teachers’ roles as information sources, facilitators, and guides. By interviewing health education teachers, Nygård explored teachers’ perceptions of their informational authority roles, the construction of teacher identity, and information seeking and evaluation from the perspective of multiliteracy.

The results of this research highlight that teachers know what multiliteracy means as a concept, but how it can be promoted in all subjects is a more challenging question. Teachers are concerned about students’ reading and writing. It is noteworthy that teaching reading and writing promotes multiliteracy and vice versa. They are thus part of the same phenomenon of multiliteracy and develop in parallel. To achieve these goals, it is necessary to utilize various information environments in teaching and to develop students’ processes of information seeking, evaluation, and production.

The current research is topical in Finland, especially because multiliteracy is at the core of the recently published national literacy strategy. Making Finland the most literate country in the world by 2030 will require extensive efforts, thorough and long-term support for teachers, and appropriate resources.
Last updated: 13.5.2022