Research Unit CORE

Students in higher education are learning increasingly online, and in recent surveys, they claim the Internet is their main source of information for completing course-related assignments. In contrast to formal, on-site, or electronic learning environments moderated by a lecturer who preselects learning materials, self-directed online studying requires a particular skill set to determine which sources are reliable as learning materials and which information is accurate. Therefore, the need to understand, evaluate and consequently strengthen the skills of knowledge acquisition through Internet-based media is crucial. Despite the large body of research on media use in formal teaching-learning settings, little is known about students’ self-directed learning on the Internet, their processing and selection of online information, and the key influences on students’ use of online sources in higher education.

As of 2023, the German Science Foundation (DFG) funds the interdisciplinary research unit “Critical Online Reasoning in Higher Education” (CORE)” (FOR 5404). The first funding phase (2023–2027) addresses the students’ COR development in online learning environments with a multilayered theoretical framework, a longitudinal study design, mix-methods approaches and analyses, and an innovative research infrastructure (incl. a digital assessment platform Azure Lab). CORE aims to understand how students in higher education actively and purposefully acquire, discern, and use accurate information from reliable online sources in a typically mixed-quality information online landscape like the Internet to build warranted knowledge, complete course-related tasks, and study successfully.

The Research Unit CORE is an international group of 65 researchers from 16 disciplines including a strong community of young researchers (PhD Candidates & Postdocs) with established collaborative working structures and methods for interdisciplinary mix-methods research.

CORE was launched in September 2023.