How to Obtain Digital Literacy Searching Skills

Current research indicates that students aren’t assessing information sources on their own merit –they’re putting too much trust in the machine.

In a study led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan, college students were asked to look up the answers to a handful of questions, in order to assess how skillful they were at online search. The results revealed that students generally relied on the web pages at the top of Google’s results list.

In a recent experiment at Northwestern, when 102 undergraduates were asked to do some research online, none went through the trouble of checking the authors’ credentials.

According to an article in Wired Magazine called “Why Kids Can’t Search”, students are not to be blamed. This is because the ability to judge information is almost never taught in school. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, elementary and high schools focus on prepping their students for reading and math examinations. By the time students attend college, professors assume they already know how to conduct an effective and intelligent search.

In order to make students better online researchers, an Edudemic article suggests teaching students the digital literacy skill of proper searching. Specifically, the following levels need to be taught:

1. Narrowing students’ focus to a specific idea, and then selecting the few key terms and some alternatives that will help them.
2. Utilizing the various “search help” tools that many search engines offer.
3. Critically sorting through the results.
4. Supplying students with the internet resources that you want them to use (sparingly).

Wired Magazine Article: “Why Kids Can’t Search”

Edudemic Article: “How To Make Students Better Online Researchers”

 

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