The five-campus ERIAL Project (Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries) has found that college students largely lack the skills to find and evaluate sources:
The most alarming finding in the ERIAL studies was perhaps the most predictable: when it comes to finding and evaluating sources in the Internet age, students are downright lousy. . . .Says anthropology professor and study leader Andrew Asher, “I think it really exploded this myth of the ‘digital native.’ Just because you’ve grown up searching things in Google doesn’t mean you know how to use Google as a good research tool.”
Throughout the interviews, students mentioned Google 115 times — more than twice as many times as any other database. The prevalence of Google in student research is well-documented, but the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources.
Worse still: students lack the search skills to navigate scholarly databases. And not one of the students observed in the two-year study asked a librarian for help. Read more:
What Students Don't Know (Inside Higher Ed, via Boing Boing)
[Digital naïfs: my name for digital natives who are “in the dark, or at least in dimly-lit rooms, when it comes to digital technology.” More in this post.]