Tracing the evolution of critical evaluation skills in students' use of the Internet

Phyllis Blumberg*, JoAnne Sparks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper documents the evolving uses of the Internet made by public health graduate students and traces the development of their search methods and critical evaluative criteria. Early in the first semester and again six months later, twenty-four graduate students in a problem-based learning curriculum, which emphasizes evidence-based critical thinking skills, were required to describe their most helpful resources and to evaluate these resources critically. The answers were coded for the types of resources the students used, how frequently they were used, and why they were used. Student perception of the usefulness of resources, especially the Internet, and ability to evaluate these resources critically changed greatly. Initially, 96% of the students stated that the Internet was their most helpful resource. Six months later, these students continued to use the Internet; however, it was not their most useful source. At the later point, students had very specific uses for the Internet. Their most frequently used evaluation criterion was the reliability and objectivity of the source of the information. By the end of the first year of study, the majority of the students demonstrated an understanding of the principles of evidence-based practice and applied them to their research and analysis of information resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-205
Number of pages6
JournalBulletin of the Medical Library Association
Volume87
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes

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