Pew – How Teens Do Research in the Digital World

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 4, 2012

How Teens Do Research in the Digital World – A survey of Advanced Placement and National Writing Project teachers finds that teens’ research habits are changing in the digital age, November 2, 2012

  • “Three-quarters of AP and NWP teachers say that the internet and digital search tools have had a “mostly positive” impact on their students’ research habits, but 87% say these technologies are creating an “easily distracted generation with short attention spans” and 64% say today’s digital technologies “do more to distract students than to help them academically.” These complex and at times contradictory judgments emerge from 1) an online survey of more than 2,000 middle and high school teachers drawn from the Advanced Placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) communities; and 2) a series of online and offline focus groups with middle and high school teachers and some of their students. The study was designed to explore teachers’ views of the ways today’s digital environment is shaping the research and writing habits of middle and high school students. 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. 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.”
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