At Christopher Newport University, students and professors use Google for research and everyday tasks.
Professors say students are not using Google to its full potential. On the contrary, students believe Google makes research more efficient with the amount of information available.
Every day, professors witness the amount that students use Google.
Dr. Mai Lan Gustafsson is an anthropology professor at CNU who sees how students use Google for their assignments.
“[Students] don’t know how to site properly,” said Gustafsson. “I read their papers and they just say, ‘Google’ rather than the actual source.”
Gustafsson understands the use of Google as a source of information. She uses it in most of her daily activities such as research and personal interest.
“I think Google is great for quick fixes and quick answers, and I use it religiously for my personal interests,” said Gustafsson.
However, she worries that students are not using Google to the full capacity they could be.
“I’m glad they have it, but I think it’s ruined some things about research. It provides instant information that isn’t always reliable and students are not aware of the ways to get sources,” said Gustafsson.
Students today are asked by some professors to use academic peer-reviewed journals for their research. These can be found through the CNU online library databases or via Google Scholar.
Dr. Rick Sherwin, a biology professor at CNU, believes that finding academic peer-reviewed journals should require a lot of time and effort.
“20 years ago, if you wanted to learn stuff or if you wanted to get papers, it required a pretty significant amount of effort. You would have to go to the library, do the search, pull articles, and read the papers,” said Sherwin.
Because of how time consuming doing the research was, students would appreciate every bit of information within the articles they found. Today, students can search for and find a large amount of articles in a small amount of time via Google or other online source.
“It was so time consuming that it was a big commitment. Everything that came in was a treasure and you absorbed all of it. That same information I could get now in 30 seconds,” said Sherwin.
Because of this, Freshman Tara Hart believes Google allows her to study more than what is required in a fraction of the time.
“Google cuts the time in half, and we can move on to study other things,” said Hart. “We can do twice as much studying in half the time.”
However, students can read through a large variety of articles at once. They are conditioned to only skim through the article for the minimum amount of information that is required instead of absorbing all of the information available.
“Because it’s so accessible, human nature is to quickly skim it and get the minimum amount of information,” said Sherwin. “We don’t treat it as valuably as we did historically because it was harder to get.”
“With real research you have to have appropriate sources,” said Gustafsson. “[Students] tend to believe whatever’s on the computer.”
On the other hand, students see Google as a source of information instantly available at their fingertips.
“I wouldn’t know how to look through the Internet if it wasn’t for Google,” said Hart.
Student’s minds today are always growing and eager to learn. Especially when the learning can be done in a time efficient manner and at the student’s disposal.
“I think it does increase curiosity which is always a wonderful thing especially in higher education,” said Gustafsson.
Vince Grosskopf, a junior at CNU, understands that Google can be a gateway to explore the Internet.
“I think [Google] is definitely a very useful resource,” said Grosskopf. “You never know what you can find.”