Students Given Internet Warning; EDUCATION: Leading Academic Spells out Pitfalls of Online Research
Byline: By Lucy Lynch EDUCATION REPORTER
COVENTRY University's vicechancellor has warned that students are relying too much on the internet - without checking their facts.
Madeleine Atkins is particularly concerned that a lot of students are using the information website Wikipedia.
The website is created by members of the public who send in information on thousands of subjects.
But the site can be edited by anyone and therefore its accuracy is not guaranteed.
Prof Atkins said students were taking information from sites such as Wikipedia at face value without checking it properly.
She took part in a discussion about the issue at a House of Commons select committee meeting.
While she had nothing but praise for students' computing abilities she is concerned they don't ask enough questions about the information they find.
She said that students in their first year struggle "to bring independent critical analysis to internet-based sources".
She said: "Students that come to us are very able to source materials from the internet."
But she added that too often they "get it from Wiki and it just arrives in the essay" without being critically evaluated.
Prof Atkins said: "Students have excellent IT skills and have no difficulty finding material from the web.
They are well used to using digital archives to search for materials.
"The one issue we have is that they should try to display the same kind of objective scrutiny to those sources as they would to any other published materials. …