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Abstract

This study aims to explore how online searching plays a role during PBL tutorials in two undergraduate health sciences curricula, Medicine and Dentistry. Utilizing Interactional Ethnography (IE) as an organizing framework for data collection and analysis, and drawing on a critical theory of technology as an explanatory lens, enabled a textured understanding of student practices and beliefs regarding online searching during face-to-face PBL tutorials. Two event maps trace key transitions in learning regarding online searching in one cycle of problem-based learning in each program. From a critical perspective, analysis of students’ stimulated recall interviews indicated that the use of students’ personal mobile devices with online searching capacity is considered a dynamic pedagogically and socially constructed process. Online searching during the PBL process is also viewed as a “site-of-struggle” where there are challenges for first-year undergraduates when implementing such learning technologies in PBL tutorials.

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