According to Pew Internet research, the teachers who instruct the most advanced American secondary school students render mixed verdicts about studentsâ€™ research habits and the impact of technology on their studies. More in particular, they say that studentsâ€™ digital literacy skills are weak and that courses or content focusing on digital literacy must be incorporated into every schoolâ€™s curriculum.
Some 77% of advanced placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers surveyed say that the internet and digital search tools have had a â€œmostly positiveâ€ impact on their studentsâ€™ research work. But 87% say these technologies are creating an â€œeasily distracted generation with short attention spansâ€ and 64% say todayâ€™s digital technologies â€œdo more to distract students than to help them academically.â€
According to this survey of teachers, conducted by the Pew Research Centerâ€™s Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the College Board and the National Writing Project, the internet has opened up a vast world of information for todayâ€™s students, yet studentsâ€™ digital literacy skills have yet to catch up:
- Virtually all (99%) AP and NWP teachers in this study agree with the notion that â€œthe internet enables students to access a wider range of resources than would otherwise be available,â€ and 65% agree that â€œthe internet makes todayâ€™s students more self-sufficient researchers.â€
- At the same time, 76% of teachers surveyed â€œstrongly agreeâ€ 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 notion that the amount of information available online today is overwhelming to most students (83%) and that todayâ€™s digital technologies discourage students from using a wide range of sources when conducting research (71%).
- Fewer teachers, but still a majority of this sample (60%), agree with the assertion that todayâ€™s technologies make it harder for students to find credible sources of information.
- Given these concerns, it is not surprising that 47% of these teachers strongly agree and another 44% somewhat believe that courses and content focusing on digital literacy should be incorporated into every schoolâ€™s curriculum.