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Information sharing in ESOL classes: People, objects and places

Information sharing in ESOL classes: People, objects and places
Jess Elmore


Information School, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2TN, UNITED KINGDOM.


This thesis aims to explore information sharing in two ESOL classes. ESOL learners are migrants learning English as part of adult basic education. Information sharing is explored through a practice theory lens using the framework of information grounds theory.

The research investigates the characteristics of the two classes as information grounds, how people, objects and places mediate information sharing in these classes, how information sharing is interleaved with other practices and how critical theories of place and embodiment can inform our understanding of in- formation practice.

The research was a constructivist case study of two community ESOL classes in an English city. Observation was the primary data collection method but a range of other methods were used to build an understanding of the case.

The characteristics of the two classes as information grounds were explored, giving a rich picture of the overlapping contexts of migration and ESOL and the particular contexts of the two classes. A structured contextual narrative of in- formation sharing episodes was used as the basis for analysis.

Information sharing was identified as a core information practice for the two classes, and its links with information literacy were explored. The concepts of informative people, places and objects were developed to explore how information sharing was mediated in these two cases. Key characteristics of accessibility, mediation, pleasure and the non-cognitive were identified as central to the in- formative person, place and object. Further findings related to the need to take a critical approach to embodied information practice.

The research adds to our knowledge in a number of areas. It provides more context to LIS migration research; offers insight into information sharing more generally, and involves a novel application of information grounds theory. It also contributes to ESOL by demonstrating the value of ESOL classrooms as information grounds and suggesting what kinds of arrangements may be productive of information sharing.