December 17 Day 649: Realistic or Out-dated ?

I am pleased to report that all the papers submitted in support of group projects have been graded. What distressed me was what students thought were appropriate sources for references.

I use Wikipedia and Wolfram MathWorld as much as the next person. They are great places to start answering questions and have good science/math entries. Is it time for me to allow these sources? Maybe in moderation with other support?

As I was grading, I noticed that the only sources my students accessed, with the exception of the course textbook, were electronic. That doesn’t bother me. Good sources are available online. But not everything available online is good. I don’t remember having this many YouTube videos, other instructor’s lecture notes, online tutoring sites, blogs, and (gasp) papers posted online written by undergraduate students appear as references.

I spent a fair amount of time looking up who the contributors in the references were. In some cases, they were legit experts. In others…not even close.

Is this a COVID consequence? Do students need extra instruction on determining the reliability of an online source?

I know there are fantastic podcasts, blogs, and YouTubes, created by clever mathematicians. Are they validated by the number of views?

I need a reality check. Have standards of scholarly evidence changed? Am I showing my age being troubled by sources with little to no external review?

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

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