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Assessing Reliability And Credibility For Online Engineering Resources

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.232.1 - 7.232.7



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Paper Authors

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Beth Kolko

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Linda Whang

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 1520

Assessing Reliability and Credibility for Online Engineering Resources

Beth E. Kolko, Linda Whang University of Washington


The easy availability of material on the Web means that students are increasingly turning to electronic resources for research purposes. While many resources that are accessible electronically parallel familiar print resources and are, often, simply online versions of familiar databases and catalogs, there exists a large quantity of information that rests outside familiar frameworks for published research. The authors of this paper work as a professor and an engineering librarian respectively, and in our work we have watched as both undergraduate and graduate students struggle to adapt to an increasingly electronic environment for research. As students come to rely on the Internet to access resources, they are often not critical consumers of information, and they often do not differentiate among resources gained via university- subscribed databases versus resources that reside outside such databases and are part of the ‘open’ Web.

This paper examines strategies for instructing students about the variety of resources available for online research and the necessity of differentiating among database-related resources and independently posted research. In addition, we focus on the crucial issues of reliability and credibility with respect to online resources. Traditional ways of assessing these factors are not always relevant in an online environment, and it is imperative that we as educators develop curricula that address the procedures and goals of responsible secondary research. For example, reading research results published in a journal that is part of the ACM Digital Library requires a different critical reading strategy than reading the pages of research groups at the MIT Media Lab. This is different still from using unpublished papers available on the Web as a component of a research paper. Teachers are increasingly developing guidelines for their students’ use when it comes to learning to use such a wide variety of electronic resources responsibly and effectively, and this paper is an attempt to bring together many of those efforts, compiling different strategies and providing a framework for extending and refining them. Ultimately, of course, our goal is to discuss the utility of proposing discipline-specific criteria for dealing with these general issues and laying out some general strategies for engineering educators.

The Internet as a Research Resource for Students

That the World Wide Web has become integrated into higher education is clear. Both students and teachers continue to find novel uses for information technology both inside and outside the classroom. And despite worries of plagiarism and reinforcing sloppy writing habits, the Internet

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Kolko, B., & Whang, L. (2002, June), Assessing Reliability And Credibility For Online Engineering Resources Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10473

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