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Research competence and scientific literacy in a digital age

Alexandra Schebesta  

In our modern digital world information gathering about different topics is largely done via internet. This particularly concerns young people who are especially familiar with mobile devices and the use of the internet. However, they are not familiar with critical examination of websites and content to the same extent. Thus, fostering this aspect of scientific literacy was the major goal of our project „Pseudo? Or Science?". We instructed high school students in workshops how to systematically search for scientific literature in the internet and how to critically review the findings. Scientific content concerns everybody, as we are confronted with it through media all the time. Using examples of actual headlines such as "Can lack of sleep make you fat?" we went through a whole internet research process with the students. Our training included the definition of the right keywords, the use of different databases for the internet search and defining criteria for the critical evaluation of the content. Especially teachers and students have an increased need to search for appropriate scientific literature in the internet in order to write scientific essays at school. Our experiences and evaluation from feedback forms returned showed that teachers as well as students are not very confident, neither with the selection of the right keywords nor with evaluating the search results regarding their scientific validity. The information from our workshops was thus very much appreciated. The need for such trainings was confirmed by the high demand from teachers who wanted to train their students. In response, we realised a follow up project and offered teacher trainings on the same topic in 2015. We will present the concept and findings of both projects and also discuss the difficulties we had to overcome.

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