July 30, 2013

Few students likely to use print books for research

12%

Only 12% of teachers say their students are “very likely” to use printed books in a research assignment.

Was it really that long ago when students began their research papers by hitting the library stacks?

Apparently so. In a 2012 Pew Research Center survey of almost 2,500 middle- and high-school teachers, just 12% said their students were “very likely” to use printed books (other than textbooks) in a typical research assignment — just behind the 16% who said their students would be very likely to consult research librarians.

The most-likely research resource for today’s students? No surprises: Google (which 94% of teachers said their students were “very likely” to use) and Wikipedia (75%), followed by YouTube, social-media sites and fellow students.

The survey results echo teachers’ perceptions that their students’ research methods are shallower than those of prior generations — using search engines and readily available references like Wikipedia to quickly locate just enough information to complete an assignment. As one teacher quoted in the report put it: “Students see the internet as a cool place where they can get quick information. They don’t know how to use it properly. I am not sure there are adults that know how to use it properly.”

Category: Daily Number

Topics: Education, Information Seeking

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.