Project-Based Learning in Higher Education: Developing Information Literacy Skills and Global Competency in Research and Technology Course

Project-Based Learning in Higher Education: Developing Information Literacy Skills and Global Competency in Research and Technology Course


Your Name and Title:

Melda Yildiz, Associate Professor, the School for Global Education and Innovation


Library, School, or Organization Name:

Kean University, Union, NJ


Co-Presenter Name(s):


Linda Cifelli, Information Literacy Expert

Dawn Marie Dowd, Managing Director for General Education
Craig Anderson, Librarian

Claudia Knezek, Instructor


Area of the World from Which You Will Present:

New Jersey, USA


Language in Which You Will Present:



Target Audience(s):

Teacher Educators, Teachers grade 9 through college, Librarian, Media Specialists, Curriculum Designers and Specialists


Short Session Description (one line):

This session proposal will be based on project based learning strategies in a Research and Technology course to undergraduate students.


Full Session Description (as long as you would like):



This paper outlines the difficulties and unique characteristics of developing information literacy skills and global competencies through new media and technologies in Higher Education. It offers creative strategies for integrating project-based learning modules into undergraduate courses and showcases participants’ group projects. The participants studies the value of college education; conducted surveys and interviews to articulate the realities and conditions in colleges through their research, analysis, and dialog; and presented their research-based group posters reflecting on the current national college productivity issues as well as international perspectives on the value of college education. Through their project-based activity, they gained alternative point of view on the role of college of education in their lives and renewed interest and commitment to their program of studies.


Purpose of the Study

In our General Education program at our institution, students are required to take a research and technology course.

The study explores three key topics in order to understand the educational research experiences of the participants: the wide range of meanings participants associate with myth and misconceptions in college education; the impact of developing alternative multimedia learning objects (modules) and strategies on participants’ reaction and understanding of educational issues (myths and misconceptions); and the ways in which the participants respond to project-based learning activities.

In our participatory interventions study, our research team developed project-based learning modules:

1. To show participants a wide range of periodicals, peer reviewed journals and texts about the role and power of college education.  Each learning modules were incorporated into group activities to develop research skills and global competencies among college students and to improve their research skills.

2. To model research activities while engaging college students to utilize different texts and periodicals, to summarize, compare, contrast, and evaluate the content of print and non-print media, and to develop basic research skills.  

3. To motivate participants to create research-based posters including both visuals and text on their topic and then present their findings /posters to the other groups. 

Theoretical framework

The study focuses on 1) Developing the project-based learning modules for higher education; 2) Conducting the research using new technologies (i.e. clikr, GPS, Web2.0 technologies); 3) Developing multimedia learning objects to improve participants’ reactions and responses to the myths and misconceptions in education; 4) Providing tools and strategies for participants to develop research skills and global competencies. The study was based on three theoretical framework: Media Literacy, Multicultural/ Global Education, and Semiotics in general education curriculum.




Study will be completed in October 2011 (Spring 2011-Fall 2011). There were over 60 participants were in Research and Technology courses. All the participants were sophomore (ages 18-20) and chose educations as their major.


Methodology includes the analysis of pre- and post-survey; reflection papers; responses to learning modules and online activities; interviews; field notes derived from on-site classroom observations; and the content analysis of artifacts and portfolios and classroom presentations.

After presenting with a brief mini-lesson giving them a broad overview about issues and debate in college education.  Formally presenting this information as a “close reading’ activity at the beginning of the workshop was important for the participants to fully understand and participate in the smaller group activities that follow.

Each group had a themed-based (relating specifically to the role and value of college of education in 21st century) periodicals, research journals and nonfiction texts to work with for the remainder of the classroom activity. Poster board, markers, construction papers, etc. were provided at each table. Over 25 titles of articles from periodicals or nonfiction texts were available to the participants either in hard copy at their group’s center or via a bibliography. Research team (instructors) walked around continuously and assisted the groups. There was a librarian as part of the research team in the room. Also, computer stations were available during the activity for additional support on their research.

The goal of each group is to create a research-based poster based on the resources at their table and then to present their posters to the other groups. The groups had a timetable. They had assigned roles. They completed specific strategic activities (such as Persuasion Map-  and alpha-boxes- relating to skimming and scanning for information, summarizing, comparing / contrasting, and synthesizing in order to facilitate their creation of a research-based poster in a timely manner. 




This participatory intervention study outlines the difficulties and unique characteristics of developing research skills and global competencies through new media and technologies in College Education. This presentation is for P16 teachers who would like to integrate global education, 21st Century skills and media literacy into their curriculum. It offers creative strategies for integrating project-based learning modules into undergraduate courses; and showcases participants’ group projects and research posters. They presented their research-based posters reflecting not only on the current national college productivity issues but also international perspectives on the value of college education. Through the their project-based activity, they gained alternative point of view on the role of college of education in their lives and renewed interest and commitment to their program of studies.





This research focused on:
1. Designing project based learning objects/modules integrating Web.2.0 technologies and using assessment strategies, and reflective practices are most conducive for high school and college to enhance their teaching.
2. Institutional/ Program Level Decisions on how we can empower our undergraduate students and to develop research skills on selected issues (i.e. value of college education). Most importantly, how we need to re-design our general education programs to transform our programs to meet the needs of the net generation and K12 students?
3. The role of new media and technologies: How does learning objects enhance college students’ literacy and technology skills and address ISTE National Educational Technology Standards?
4. Assessment: How do we assess our undergraduate students research skills?


Currently, research team is redesigning the project-based activities for the Fall 2011 semester. We hope to explore, design, and create the strategies, curricula, and programs for improving student learning outcomes, also gain alternative point of view on new media and technologies into K12 curriculum and renew interest and commitment to learning and global understanding. To date, few scholarly studies have investigated either the power of project based learning among college students or the impact of new technologies in developing global competencies. This study attempts to fill the gap by outlining the natural links between global education and communication. We explore how a critical approach to the study of new media combines knowledge, reflection, and action; promotes educational equity; and prepares new generation to be socially responsible members of a multicultural, democratic society.

This participatory intervention study focuses on the role of multiliteracies (i.e. numerical, information, geographical and media literacy) through the lens of global education.

After the intervention, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire about:
• the challenges and advantages of integrating Web2.0 technologies in research;
• digital resources for communicating media messages;
• the process of integrating new media as a tool for teaching and learning;
• global issues and 21st century skills across grades and subjects;

* role of college education in their lives.


Educational Implications

This study will benefit teacher candidates, teacher educators, K-12 educators and students, parents, media specialists, and administrators who seek alternative strategies and tools for integrating media literacy in K-12 curriculum using new media and technologies, developing and integrating critical autonomy and global competencies into the K12 curriculum.

This project based research activity provided participants in further developing their knowledge of technology and research skills.  The reading and writing of research papers as well as the ability to have fluent interactions with periodicals and nonfiction texts is a literacy goal across all content areas.  Participants interacted with a wide range of texts and articles that contain content about college education as a means of further developing their own knowledge of the value of education as well as facilitating their research skills.


Berg, G. A. (2010). Low-income students and the perpetuation of inequality: Higher education in America.

Billitteri, T. J. (2009, November 20). The value of a college education. CQ Researcher, 19, 981-1004. Retrieved from

Kamenetz, A. (2010). DIY U: Edupunks, edupreneurs, and the coming transformation of higher education. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green.

Lewin, T. (2010, September 21). Value of college degree Is growing, study says. New York Times. p. 18. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Mead, R. (2010). Learning by degrees. New Yorker, 86(16), 21-22. Retrieved from EBSCOhost


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Craig Anderson is added as a co-presenter for this session.



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