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INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER ONE
1.1 Background to the Study
One of the most difficult challenges for students in the transition phase of academic writing in
higher institution is critical thinking. Lecturers frequently comment that students are not "critical
enough" however, students do not always understand what this means (Price & O’Donovan, 2007).
Critical thinking is defined by Scriven and Paul (2003) as the process to conceptualize, apply,
analyze, synthesize, and or evaluate information collected from observation, experience, feedback,
reasoning, or communication, as a way to believe and act. Critical thinkers usually raise vital
questions and problems, formulate them clearly, gather and assess relevant information, use
abstract ideas, think open-mindedly, and communicate effectively with others. However, passive
thinkers who have no ability to analyze and evaluate information tend to have a limited perspective
that is thought to be the most sensible one (Duron, Limbach, & Waugh, 2006).
The ability to think critically has been identified as an essential life skill (Galinsky, 2010). The
recognition of the importance of critical thinking abilities dates back over 2,500 years to Socrates
and Plato, with numerous scholars having discussed the importance of critical thinking in
education (Dewey, 1910; Galinsky, 2010; Paul & Elder, 2008, 2014; Paul, Elder, & Bartell, 1997;
Sternberg, 1997).
Critical thinking is a highly desirable goal of online higher education courses. In every discipline
there is an agreement that college students need to improve their critical thinking skills (McLean,
2005). Critical thinking is more than just knowledge acquisition or a collection of processing skills;
rather it is the development and continual use of analytical skills (Scriven & Paul, 2004). Overall,
educators are concerned about improving critical thinking skills among students in higher
education and find a desirable outcome of undergraduate education (Halpern, 2001; McLean,
2005).
Critical thinking skills are also intertwined with information literacy skills, but information literacy
skills are not a necessary component of critical thinking skills (Albitz, 2007). Information literacy
promotes the development of critical thinking skills and enhances the opportunity for individuals
to be more self-directed and have greater control over their learning (Shantaram, 2012).
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Critical thinking skills are coming to the forefront as students are challenged to be prepared for
jobs and careers that have not yet been established. They need to be able to learn and make sense
of new information and use it in a creative manner (Akyuz & Samsa, 2009). Critical thinking skills
are essential for students to analyze, synthesize, evaluate, and reason through information. After
going through such a process, the goal is to generalize, transfer, and apply that knowledge from
one context to another (Limberg, Sundin, & Talja, 2012). Snyder and Snyder (2008) remarked that
studies has shown that students who engage in critical thinking skills bring valuable attributes to
the work place. Since students are not naturally inclined to think critically, it is the task of the
schools to fulfill the role of preparation and development of critical thinking skills in students
(Angeli & Valanides, 2008).
Bringing together critical thinking and digital technologies may be beneficial in that it provides an
additional opportunity for interested students to achieve higher levels of knowing and to practice
the seven processes of critical thinking (Baxter and Magolda, 2001; Carmichael, Craigie, Driscoll,
Farrell, James & Scoufis, 2009). Since the internet is an increasing source of information for
learning (Astleitner, 2002), it is also important for students to develop critical-thinking skills to
apply to web-based materials. Moreover, there is global recognition of the importance of
information literacy for a variety of everyday tasks, for lifelong learning and for successful
engagement with the local and international community (Lorenzo & Dziuban 2006; UNSW 2011).
Since the emergence of the Internet, it has become an important medium of communication as well
as a research and leisure tool. The reason is that, it provides numerious opportunities to many
people around the world in several different ways. Not only the Internet, but the other new digital
technologies also took their places in peoples’ daily life. The wide access to these technologies
improves peoples’ lives and provides great opportunities. People have started to access any kind
of information easily on the Internet and also use it for social, educational and entertainment
purposes. Basically, the Internet offers two main benefits which are communication and
information (Warren et. al., 1998). On a more comprehensive basis, it can be pointed out that the
internet has some functions, especially in education, and these can be listed as: (i) storehouse of
information, (ii) communication without boundaries, (iii) online interactive learning, (iv)
electronic/online research, (v) innovation in the new world, (vi) improve interest in learning, (vii)
global education, and (viii) information catalogues (Park, 2009). As the Internet has many different
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functions, it is important to consider to what extent it is used by students in higher education for
academic purposes. Nowadays kids do not like to use libraries or any kinds of real life resources
but they can access these places online and benefit from them easily and quickly. Additionally, the
internet can be used as a tool to learn the latest news all around the world as well as getting any
kind of information that serves different purposes.
When educational aspect of the internet use is considered, it is obvious that students, or people in
general, who look for information can access it easily and with low cost. It is evident that the
internet is a source of enormous information that anything can quickly and easily be reached.
Internet also provides students with an asynchronous education where they can reach any kind of
information anytime and anywhere.
The internet which serves as an answered prayer for students is an important issue that has caught
both educators and practitioners’ attention in recent years. While research shows that students have
an ease and familiarity with technology, it is not matched by their ability to evaluate internet
sources correctly. Thus, exposure to technology does not automatically equate to proficiency in
technology (Gibson, 2012). The rate at which students rely on internet networking sites to get
everything done is alarming and becoming uncontrollable because of the addiction and relation to
it. This is in line with the submission of Lee (2008), who expresses concern that members from
across global school communities are accepting information obtained from the internet without
any apparent reflective skepticism. Thus, Students no longer think to bring out creativity to solve
issues or problems that affects them.
Furthermore, the angle of critical thinking has not been really appreciated in educational and
academic research due to the over dependent nature of students on the internet. The internet is
saturated with divergent content from various disciplines. This has made it easier for students to
search for content relating to their research and academic work and it affect their thoughts, as
opinions are based on lifted works from the internet sources limiting their own critical thinking
ability.
Though, the internet can be extremely useful to researchers, it presents a significant challenge as
it is quite different from traditional sources. The lack of uniform standards and the ease of access
have made the internet a powerful but uncertain medium. Substantial effort is required to
adequately evaluate information provided on the internet, and this may not always be apparent to
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users. This is particularly challenging for students as many have come to rely on the internet as a
primary source of information without formal instruction about the difficulties involved. The
internet has gained a primary place in research methods, and it is vital that students become able
to critically evaluate information on the internet as reliable and accurate before usage.
1.2. Statement of Problem
The importance of the internet for educational research cannot be overemphasized as it has
revolutionized the way researches are conducted in colleges and universities around the world.
The Internet enables its users to address several educational challenges, bringing learning to
students instead of bringing students to learning. It allows for the creation of learning communities
that defy the constraints of time and distance as it provides access to knowledge that was once
difficult to obtain. The power of the internet to transform the educational experience is inspiring
(Report of the Web-Based Education Commission, 2020).
However, not every information on the internet is reliable. As a matter of fact, the internet is full
of false, biased, inaccurate, incomplete, obsolete, etc. and the difficulty of ensuring the quality of
information (Gilster & Gilster, 1997). This study therefore examines the role of critical thinking
in internet as it relates to educational research among undergraduate students of Kogi State
University, Anyigba..
While there are many studies on how students deploy internet in their research efforts, there are
paucity of studies on the connection between critical thinking and internet use, especially as it
relates to research.
1.3. Objectives of the Study
The objectives of the study are as follows:
1. To examine the extent to which students use the internet.
2. To examine the extent to which Kogi State University students engage in critical thought
process when accessing information from the internet.
3. To identify what critical processes KSU students employ when accessing information from
the internet.
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4. To evaluate what critical thought processes Kogi State University students consider
relevant when dealing with information from the internet.
1.4. Research Questions
The following research questions are central to the study:
1. What is the level to which students use the internet
2. To what extent do Kogi State University Students engage in critical thought process when
accessing information from the internet?
3. What is the level at which KSU students engage in critical thought process when accessing
internet information?
4. What critical thought processes does KSU students employ when accessing internet
information?
5. What critical thought process do KSU students consider relevant when dealing with
information from the internet?
1.5. Significance of Study
To compound the challenge of developing critical thinking skills in students, the information age
has brought about the need for students to acquire information literacy skills so they can
successfully navigate the plethora of information on the internet which are less controlled by
experts. This study seeks to build and add to existing research on students’ ability to discern
information as reliable, valid, and authentic as accessed from the internet and to use it effectively
to meet their information needs. Also, the findings of this study will assist educators in determining
whether or not exposure to information from the internet equals the ability for them to discern its
reliability, validity, and authenticity. With the challenge of an overabundance of information that
is questionable in quality, the solution cannot be limited to improving technology instruction,
rather there is a need for students to have stronger information literacy skills (Katz, 2008). In
addition, the findings of this study will provide empirical data on whether or not the use internet
tools has enhance students' critical thinking and information literacy skills and their ability to
discern information from the Internet as valid, reliable, and authentic. The results will also create
awareness that students need to be instructed to discern valid, reliable, and authentic information
from the internet.
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1.6. Scope of Study
The study is limited to the undergraduate students of Kogi State University who are internet savvy.
The research examines critical thinking and the use of internet as an educational research tool
among students of the faculty of Social Science, Kogi State University, Anyigba.
1.7 Operational Definition Terms
Critical Thinking: It is the process were by KSU undergraduates analyze, evaluate, synthesize
and reason educational information thoroughly for a better, accurate, quality and reliable outcome.
Educational Research: This is a form of information gathering process undergone by KSU
undergraduates, which involves sourcing for information that revolves around educational subject
matter that has been outlined in order to get a valuable and reliable results.
Information Literacy: This is the ability of KSU undergraduates to recognize and to locate,
evaluate, manage, and use educational information effectively through digital means.
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