Building on the Pew Internet Project’s prior work about how people use the internet and, especially, the information-saturated digital lives of teens, this research looks at teachers’ experiences and observations about how the rise of digital material affects the research skills of today’s students.Overall, teachers who participated in this study characterize the impact of today’s digital environment on their students’ research habits and skills as mostly positive, yet multi-faceted and not without drawbacks.
At the same time, 76% of teachers surveyed “strongly agree” with the assertion that internet search engines have conditioned students to expect to be able to find information quickly and easily.
Large majorities also agree with the assertion that the amount of information available online today is overwhelming to most students (83%) and that today’s digital technologies discourage students from using a wide range of sources when conducting research (71%).
These are among the main findings of an online survey of a non-probability sample of 2,462 middle and high school teachers currently teaching in the U. Some 1,750 of the teachers are drawn from a sample of advanced placement (AP) high school teachers, while the remaining 712 are from a sample of National Writing Project teachers.
Survey findings are complemented by insights from a series of online and in-person focus groups with middle and high school teachers and students in grades 9-12, conducted between November, 2011 and February, 2012.
Among the more positive impacts they see: the best students access a greater depth and breadth of information on topics that interest them; students can take advantage of the availability of educational material in engaging multimedia formats; and many become more self-reliant researchers.