A commitment to quality instruction on how to access, evaluate, and synthesize online information needs to be a top priority
While today’s young people certainly are surrounded by technology, and they use it in their everyday lives, this is not the same as mastering technology as a task-specific learning tool, especially for gathering online information for research reports, reviews, and syntheses.
While the vast majority of students may consult their smart phones dozens of times a day to view Facebook and Instagram or to send text messages, far fewer know how to access and evaluate quality information online to help them complete academic tasks and assignments.
Many high school and college students either don’t understand or don’t want to acknowledge that cutting and pasting information verbatim from the Internet into a report without citing or acknowledging the source constitutes plagiarism. Few seem to have developed the ability to make discriminations regarding the veracity and value of the multitude of websites that offer positions and documents of dubious quality.
Increasingly, students in lower-division college courses are expected to complete assignments requiring them to acquire and synthesize information that would have only been expected of graduates two decades ago. This is not because anyone has raised expectations for college freshman; it is instead a reflection of the ubiquity of and ease of access to information, particularly of the type needed to do literature reviews or term papers.
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