Information Studies Theses and Dissertations

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    Exploring Changes in Communication between Native English Speakers (NES) and Non-native English Speakers (NNES) with the Aid of Facial Expression Recognition Feedback in Group Videoconferencing
    (2023) Yang, Jialun; Lee, Heera; Master in Information Management; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    One of the frequent communication challenges in group meetings between native English speakers (NES) and non-native English speakers (NNES) is confusion experienced by the NNES while communicating in English with the NES. To address this, I proposed integrating a facial expression recognition tool with a video conferencing platform to help NES enhance their ability to identify NNES’ confused moments and promote effective communication with NNES. The study was conducted on a video conferencing platform to investigate how precisely the NES and the facial expression recognition tool identify the confused moments of the NNES in comparison with the self-report of the NNES. Furthermore, this study explored the impact of such identification on how the NES adjusted their communication approach when interacting with the NNES in subsequent group meetings. The findings revealed that the self-reports of NNES played a significant role over the facial expression recognition tool, enabling the NES to better perceive the confused moments of the NNES. As a result, the NES gained a better understanding of the NNES and improved their ability to communicate effectively during the meeting. Although using the facial expression recognition tool to detect the NNES’ confusion during the meeting was underestimated by the NES in this study, it provided me a valuable opportunity to investigate the context of how NNES, NES, and the tool identify the confused moments of the NNES. This highlighted the importance of considering the NNES’ self-reports and their facial expressions within the context to improve the current facial expression recognition tool.
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    Stable Science and Fickle Bodies: An Examination of Trust and the Construction of Expertise on r/SkincareAddiction
    (2023) DeCusatis, Cara Maria; Sauter, M.R.; Library & Information Services; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    While there is considerable research on the topic of trust when it comes to health information or news media, there is less work examining how trust and expertise are conceptualized for information that may straddle both subjective and objective approaches to knowledge. In this thesis, I use the subreddit r/SkincareAddiction as a field site to examine how users construct skincare expertise and position skincare expertise in relation to formalized bioscience and experiential knowledge. Building on Science and Technology Studies’ theories of lay expertise and embodiment, I investigate how users interpret, share, and enact skincare and subreddit competence, discern trustworthy information, and negotiate the boundaries of science. Through a grounded theory analysis of subreddit posts and comments, I argue that r/SkincareAddiction users engage in forms of boundary work to preserve the expertise of medical professionals and the perceived infallibility of science. I argue that such delineations both uphold formalized systems of expertise and make space for alternative, community-specific forms of skincare expertise. This community-specific expertise is reified through community norms and agreed upon beliefs, such as the understanding that “your mileage may vary” and “everyone’s skin is different”. I situate these community beliefs within feminist understandings of embodied knowledge and argue that these beliefs are what afford users participation in “expert” conversations from which they might otherwise be excluded.
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    (2023) Pauw, Daniel; Clegg, Tamara; Library & Information Services; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    While mobile technology has supported and enabled both formal and informal learning, there remain difficulties connecting learners’ interests to places-based learning contexts. Place-based and affinity space learning frameworks are useful for understanding and scaffolding learning. Place-based learning looks at ways aspects of the local context/geographical context (e.g., plants, animals, stores, houses, etc.) can shape learning. Affinity spaces, as a learning theory, focuses on the interests and passion that motivate learners and communities. Bridging the interests from affinity spaces with the knowledge from lived environments can help scaffold learners to help them connect their learning to new contexts. Being able to connect learning in new contexts is an important step that currently is not thoroughly described between online interest spaces and place-based learning environments. Technological affordances of mobile technologies (e.g., cameras, apps, GPS, etc.) can provide tools to bridge gaps between learners’ interests and lived environments. For example, the always on connection mobile phones have to the internet allows people to bring their interest communities to new places (e.g., telepresence robots). New technologies thus have great potential for connecting these interest and place-based aspects of children’s lives to learning. My dissertation study explores how to help learners connect their interest-driven learning to everyday place-based learning using technology. An important aspect of this connection centers on how to effectively encourage new lines of communication between learning communities. The specific technology I used to encourage the development of learning communication is digital stickers. Digital stickers, much like their analog counterparts, are used by learners to communicate interests and, importantly, emotion with images. Unlike emoji or badges, stickers have the added affordance of allowing learners to collectively edit or contribute to a single image rather than being a more standard time-based conversation log. Placement, theme, recipient, and other factors provide the technology with the ability to impact and communicate emotional ties and potentially influence more enduring connections between place, interest, and learners. My dissertation specifically looks at (1) how members of the Science Everywhere informal learning community currently connect place and interest and (2) how the affordances and constraints of digital stickers impact usage of these stickers with respect to connecting and communicating learning interests. Analysis of this data examined factors that impact design of digital stickers or potential similar technologies when connecting interests from affinity spaces to place-based learning environments.
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    Exploring remote service provision in adult day centers during the COVID-19 pandemic
    (2023) Marte, Crystal; Lazar, Amanda; Vanderheiden, Gregg; Library & Information Services; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted the long-term services and supports (LTSS) sector, necessitating a rapid shift from in-person services to remote. Adult day service centers (ADSCs) – a type of LTSS – offer in-person community-based programs comprised of health and wellness services to historically underserved populations, such as communities of color, low-income, and older adults. Based on data collected from 23 semi-structured interviews with 22 providers from eight ADSCs across a Mid-Atlantic state, this thesis explores the experiences of ADSC providers – such as directors, activity staff, and nurses – as they navigated pandemic-related closures. To ensure uninterrupted services, centers leveraged their existing infrastructure and adapted to a remote service model. An intricate interplay of technical (e.g., access to devices, internet) to non-technical (e.g., digital literacy, sociocultural context, limited staff) variables affected the overall success of remote services. Simultaneously, ADSCs grappled with limited reimbursement for remote services – which directly impacted their operations and the sustainability of remote services. These findings offer insights into the challenges and adaptations providers experienced amidst an unprecedented crisis, shedding light on the systemic issues throughout this period. The study seeks to inform future interventions that promote the sustainability of remote services in ADSCs, with a specific focus on preventing service disruptions for historically underserved populations.
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    (2023) Shokeen, Ekta; Williams-Pierce, Caro Dr.; Library & Information Services; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Sketching is considered a helpful activity in STEM design and education. Scholars have argued for including children in designing technology as it has been found to improve product design and leads to social and cognitive benefits for children. However, little is known about children’s learning and sketching experiences when participating in design activities. How do children sketch during design activities? How do children learn about sketching in design activities? What information do they share via their sketches? What information do they use for sketching? How do they use sketching in the overall design process? How do learning and sketching relate to STEM design? This three-paper dissertation uses empirical and theoretical approaches to address these questions. The first paper uses an ethnographic case study approach to qualitatively examine information-sharing practices and learning opportunities from children’s engagement in interest-driven sketching. Findings suggest that sketching can provide multiple learning opportunities to children. Also, it can be helpful to gather information about the broader contexts of children’s lives which can help identify their needs and improve the future design of technologies for children. The second paper presents a theoretical framework, Radical Constructivist Cooperative Inquiry (RCCI), for understanding children’s learning in design activities. Based on the theoretical synthesis of the cooperative inquiry design approach and the radical constructivist perspective of learning, RCCI establishes six pillars of learning in design. Finally, the paper discusses how these six pillars can be utilized in design activities to support children’s learning. The third paper is a secondary analysis of video data of children’s learning and sketching experiences in engineering design in their home environments. It focuses on examining the relationship between children’s sketching and learning following the RCCI framework with the thematic analysis method. Results suggest that sketching can engage children in learning about STEM skill sets. These three papers collectively contribute empirically and theoretically to building knowledge about improving and sustaining design cycles by children in STEM learning contexts.