To date, 449 middle schoolers, 414 high schoolers and 28 adults have taken the 10-item pretest that measures the ability to find critical information and evaluate its credibility. There are several differences that really stand out.
Due to the greater number of respondents, the charts for middle school and high school resemble standard distributions. On average, high schoolers do better due to more experience and more advanced reading abilities.
Are these the results you would expect? Do you think they are artificially low or about right? That's hard to say without seeing the pretest. Without disclosing specific items (in case you want to take the test), the 10 items focus on skills that have been described in previous posts, requiring the application of appropriate techniques to find the author of articles, the name of the publisher, the date of publication, other instances of the content on the Internet and references to web pages. This is difficult because it's not always obvious what technique may be needed (several must be tried)--and this requires knowing the techniques in the first place. What most people do is browse when faced with a search challenge. When browsing doesn't work, can they think of another technique to try?
We believe this is a fair test of one's search abilities. It reveals technical deficiencies--or at least the inability to apply them appropriately. If you'd like to try it out, the 'course' is open through the end of August. There is a fee ($25) but if you find the assessment useful and want to use it with students, we're open to talking about group rates. Here's the link: http://21cif.mrooms.net/course/view.php?id=72 (sign in as a guest).