Improving Student’s Web Use

Best way to teach year 7 (1st year of secondary school) students to develop a concept/mind map Before searching the web.

  1. Brainstorm for ideas on the topic
  2. Demonstrate how mindmappong workd by creating a mind map collaborative with the whole class.
  3. Introduce mindmapping using you-tube clips which could be specific to the online tool or soft ware that is introduced eg MindMeinster, Webspiration, Inspiration etc.

Inquiry questions can be developed by-

Using the

Question Formulation Technique suggested by Rothstein & Santana, (2011),

This technique refines and clarifies the important questions to be answered.

I like the idea of flipping Blooms Taxonomy starting with creating first as suggested by Wright(2012). It makes sense and supports inquiry learning in that students are first creative with what they all ready know and understand, they then evaluate, analyse and ready to apply the information they have to new information. This is a good basis to begin to identify key questions that drive the inquiry process.

Developing Search Strategies

I like the idea suggested by Herring (2011)  to use a concept map  to develop and encourage the web search strategies. As Herring points out  students need to know why they need to have these strategies and what they are.

The importance of having a strategy could also be highlighted using

  • The Question Formulation Technique.
  • Using you-tube clips which teach the strategies. eg website strategies in plain English.

Best ways to teach students to be critical readers (i.e. not just users) of websites and to know the difference between opinion and evidence based information.

Teaching students how to evaluate websites should include an explanation of how to complete an evaluation and the value in doing so.

A concept map and the slides and videos included in Are You Web Literate? by Bates (2012)could be used once again to initiate discussion, which then could be the basis for the formulation of a meaningful student  based website evaluation guide. Herring (2011)

Herring (2011) identifies the need for students to read, interpret  and use the information and ideas they have found on the website. Skills include-

  • skimming and scanning,
  • finding key sections of the website in its various forms,
  • selecting which information suits the purpose
  •  taking notes.

Herring makes the point that students need to be given opportunities to identify reading for information skills that they need and want to learn . Skills taught as a result of this process will be  more effective and productive. Students are more likely to put what they have learned into practice.

To emphasize the need to be aware of hoax sites I would use-

The House Hippo (2005) youtube clip

Get students to evaluate websites as suggested by Kidsnetsoft (2005)

Knowledge and skills that help students avoid plagiarism and reference correctly

to use information and ideas  found on the web ethically and effectively are essential. Herring (2011)

Johnson,  (2004) suggests that teachers should plan assessments that require thoughtful and original research  rather than assessments that can be easily plagiarized.

The BOS (2006) site has a thorough look at these issues in relation to the HSC and would be a good reference for teaching these skills especially in the senior school years.

Students could be shown how to make use of free plagiarism checkers such as Dustball plagiarism checker and Dupli Checker.

The tutorial presented by Acadia University (2008) is another very useful resource to inform students of requirements.

Reflective Web Learners

Herring (2011) suggests encouraging student reflection by  using the following questions –

  • How well did you plan research?
  • Did you use..
  • A mind map?
  • Questions?
  • Advance search?
  • How did you decide if the website was useful or not?
  • How did you find information within the website?
  • Did you need to re-think your search key words?Wri
  • What did you learn about web searching?

These types of questions could be better incorporated into students assessments so that reflection becomes a natural part of information gathering rather than a separate task.

Use of a research process rubic like the one designed by Franker (2011) would be a very useful reflection tool.

Three studies were reviewed concerning students and their use of the web.

Kuiper,Volman & Terwel (2008) found that-

Students predominately used Google.

When browsing websites relevant information was often overlooked. Website evaluation only took place in relation to the usefulness of the website without consideration to the reliability and trustworthiness of the information even though students had been taught and were well aware what they had to look for.

The reading level of students had little correlation to  their web searching skills.

Students generally had difficulty applying web skills and strategies taught and did not use reflection at all on the process.

The author suggests that there maybe an overflow  of  home  computer use behaviours where web searching  and reflection skills are not known or practiced. These web searching  behaviours are transferred to school.

The authors also suggest that critical reading and reflection skills are mainly taught in the print form and students may have trouble transferring these skills to web use.

In a study undertaken by Herring(2010) looked at formulating questions as a technique to identify and clarify the purpose during web search. It was found that skills were not consistently transferred once students began searching the web for information.

Jin Soo & Neuman(2007) found that –

Student’s had a high perception of their web searching abilities.

The organisation of information was what students found difficult

Students found the use of templates and structured guidelines helpful to organise information.

The results of the above studies indicate there is a need to teach web search skills and reflect upon strategies used regularly. Students need to gain a personal understanding of their  value as a tool in retrieving information efficiently, ethically and effectively from the web.


Acadia University (2008) You wrote it you quote it. Acadia University. Retrieved 3 September 2012 from

Wright, S (2012) Flipping Blooms Taxonomy. Retrieved 3 Sept 2012 from

Bates, N. (2012) Are you web literate? Retrieved 3 November from

Board of Studies NSW, (2006). HSC: All my own work. Retrieved 3 September 2012 from

Franker(2011)  Research process rubic. Middle school. Retrieved 3 September 2012 from

Herring, J. (2011) Improving students’ web use and information literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Herring, J. E. (2010). School Students, Question Formulation and Issues of Transfer: a Constructivist Grounded Analysis. Libri: International Journal Of Libraries & Information Services, 60(3), 218-229. doi:10.1515/libr.2010.019

House Hippo (2006). Retrieved 3 September 2012 from

Jin Soo, C., & Neuman, D. (2007). High school students’ Information seeking and use for class projects. Journal Of The American Society For Information Science & Technology, 58(10), 1503-1517. doi:10.1002/asi.20637

Retrieved from>

Johnson, D (2004) Plagiarism-Proofing Assignments.Phi Delta Kappan, Retrieved on 3 September 2012. from

Kidsnetsoft(2005). Retrieved 3 September 2012 from

Kuiper, E., Volman, M. and Terwel, J. (2008)Students use of web literacy skills and strategies: searching, reading and evaluating Web information. Information research,13(3)