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Students Google Often - But Not Well
August 24, 2011
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A series of studies by five Illinois university libraries has found that students use Google a lot - and that they're not very good at it. The studies, collectively called ERIAL (Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries), involved speaking to students and observing their research habits. Those observations revealed that not only did students tend to use Google to search for things, but that they assume all other search engines or databases will work the same way Google does.

Although they Google all the time, many of the students who participated in the study didn't have great skills: they couldn't effectively narrow their searches to make them more effective, they didn't know how to query a specific database like Google Scholar, and they couldn't limit their searches to News items only. One first-year accounting major said, "I know there are books but I don't really know how to find them. Really the only thing I know how to do is go to Google and type in what I'm looking for."

Outside of the library, another recent study found that university students turn to Google first when they're looking for general information - 95% of the time, in fact. But the authors of that work also found that when it comes to life decisions and spiritual advice, students tend to avoid search engines and ask for advice from friends and family.

Want to improve your Googling skills? Check out this list of 100 Google search tricks. Or if you're really feeling adventurous, why not head to an actual library and use your eyes to search for...a book?


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