Students and Online Information: Critical Thinking Skills
The Internet is the go-to source for most students when it comes to research and gathering information – but is this remarkable tool being used in the best way?
A recent study suggests that it is not. The study, conducted by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and Goethe University Frankfurt, showed that students, including those studying at university level, fail to think critically about the information they consume online. Even worse, they are often misled by unreliable sources of information.
With so much unverified and inaccurate information circulating online, many students (and adults) seem to lack the necessary critical thinking skills to safely consume Internet content. Learning basic critical thinking skills such as how to identify the source of the material can go a long way helping students determine whether the content is reliable and useful.
It would be particularly useful to start training students as early as secondary school to critically assess the information they are consuming online. The more that students practice this process, the higher the likelihood that they will internalize the skills and apply them independently in the future.
Here are some useful critical thinking questions that can be used as prompts for discussion and to encourage students to become better critical thinkers:
- The information in the article seems interesting and related to your topic. Is this information sourced?
- Have you looked at other websites that discuss the same topic? Do they report similar or different information?
- Does this website consider other points of view?
- Who writes the information found on the website? What are their credentials? Do they have expertise on the topic?
These types of questions can also be useful for educators, parents, and tutors alike!
Other helpful resource for educators, parents and tutors: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/evaluating-quality-of-online-info-julie-coiro