Our superb librarians survey students and faculty annually. Results from this year’s survey are in. Student responses to one of the questions:
Notice that the frequencies of responses from these two groups are essentially mirror images of each other. Students are extrinsically motivated by grades, so they think in instrumental terms: I need correctly formatted citations and the specified minimum number of sources. Otherwise my grade will be negatively affected. Knowing whether a source is reputable is far less important. Faculty think the reverse: the ability to locate scholarly source material and analyze information for bias matters most.
I have tried to solve this problem in the past, and could not find a satisfactory solution. Consequently, I have focused more on curating quality content for student to consume than on marking down students because of their reliance on websites that are top-listed in Google searches. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I decided to stop assigning traditional research papers.
Given the survey results though, the problem extends far beyond my small corner of the curriculum. I’m not going to solve it independently.
Readers might find these other posts on information literacy skills to be of interest: