The need for critical research skills

We often hear educators complain that when their learners use the internet to find information for projects they simply copy and paste from the first reference that comes up on Google.

Vicki Davis, a teacher in the US, posted an interesting blog entry about this:

If students take the “first thing they come to” to determine their opinion, then we are sorely at the mercy of Google’s algorithms and the determination of webmasters who desire to be heard. Understanding how to search, how to validate sources, and even how to use deep web resources is an essential part of being literate.

Citing multiple sources is also essential for the critical researcher. The blog post describes what needs to be done in schools to teach these skills, as well as the barriers to curriculum change that make this a challenge. Some interesting comments from other teachers are also posted.

I support her argument: that “the ability to form one’s opinion and validate sources is the key” for digitally enabled youth. These qualities form part of communication and analytical skills in the 21st century.

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3 responses to “The need for critical research skills

  1. Can’t agree with you more! The onus is on the teachers to help their learners get these new media skills!!! This is going to require them to work on their own research skills.

  2. Maggie is so right, teachers have to improve themselves in order to be able to teach this. How many teachers can actually find anything when asked to look for it. It is not really about “Google Search” as the process of search.So often when I’m teaching Socratically a question comes up that I do not have the answer to — I will say “define that in Google” (define: and the word) or “look that up) — we will then compare sources and discuss the accurate information. This is a way to pull in this practice daily if there are computers in your room.It is great to discuss and bring these issues out.

  3. I often hear many recently graduated students say that “If there was no google I wouldn’t have passed nor graduated”. Because of the phenomenal rise of wikipedia, in terms of sources some learners have improved in terms of utilizing numerous sources by simply using wikipedia references found down under every page they browse on wikipedia. But deep web search still remains a mystery for some students and teachers have to teach students how to carry out such searches

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