Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Graduate Research Symposium

I will be presenting my thesis at the 2009 Graduate Student Research Symposium on March 18th. The abstract for the symposium was due today and I will share my poster presentation as it is completed.

Online tools that assist high school students in determining credibility when researching online.

According to research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University, teens tend to rely on the look and feel of the presentation of information online to determine the content’s credibility. As design technology has become more available, average users can create content and websites that look just as “professional” or "trustworthy" as traditional expert sources. This issue of side-by-sideness becomes problematic as teens look to the web as a source for research and information, not just a social activity.

Many teens utilize the Internet for academic research because they desire the multiple perspectives it can provide. My current investigation seeks to develop online tools that assist high school students in critically sorting through the complexity of the visual presentation of online information. How can online collective research teach students to analyze, interpret and judge visual language and attribute it to the source and the credibility of information?

Researchers Shawn Tseng and B.J. Fogg state four types of credibility assessment used in the online environment: experienced (relationship over time), reputed (third party recommendations), presumed (cultural or media based assumptions) and surface (look and feel of information). One of the goals of my investigation is to incorporate these assessments into the design of online environments.

This investigation seeks to explore ways in which high school students can be prepared to critique the multiple perspectives that the Internet provides. While this project focuses on high school students, the development process ensures transferability to other age groups and scenarios.

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