Search Engines and Mediocre Students

There is an interesting article here about a university professor who bans her students from using Google and Wikipedia in their assignments, saying that they are “churning out banal and mediocre work by using what search engines provided them.” viagra usa She effectively argues that using search engines (and wikipedia) do not only offer students shallow (or potentially misleading) ideas, but also deprives them of interpretative and analytic skills.

The fun thing about the article is her response: “I give [my students] a reading list to work from and expect them to cite a good number of them in any work they produce… I want students to sit down and read. It’s not the same when you read it online. I want them to experience the pages and the print as much as the digitisation and the pixels,” and she blames this downwards trend on the decline of libraries. So, ranking query results on a search engine filters information, but so does she- and her reading list is the better authority? Probably, given that she is an expert in the course she teaches. Do search engines do a bad job at capturing the quality of information? Do they breed laziness, and axe our ability to think? Or is this just another “againster” who rejects technology (feeling the pages- is she serious? if she dislikes the content on wikipedia so much, why doesn’t she change it?)?

2 Responses to “Search Engines and Mediocre Students”

  1. mike says:

    Do search engines do a bad job at capturing the quality of information?

    I’m not sure that’s what she’s saying; search engines are good at finding information but they don’t teach you how to do research. The point of an assignment is not to find the answer but to learn how to find the answer. Most undergraduate assignments can probably be answered using Google and Wikipedia, but hopefully at some point in their careers the students will come across a question that can’t, and at that point they’ll need skills like critically evaluating and comparing sources, following references, understanding information in its historical context, etc etc. By forcing her students to cite their sources the professor is forcing them to acquire those skills.

  2. Instead of spending time on her crusade against Google, Wikipedia, and her students, she may well spend time thinking about better problems for her undegrads. There are many problems that require the use of critical thinking, and for which Wikipedia, Google, and (even) smelly books are not enough. Unfortunately, only good teachers who are great researchers are able to do so. “Search Engines and Mediocre Students”? What about “Search Engines and Mediocre Teachers”?