Students' abilities to evaluate the credibility of online texts: The role of internet‐specific epistemic justifications

Elina K. Hämäläinen, Carita Kiili, Eija Räikkönen, Miika Marttunen

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Previous evaluation studies have rarely used authentic online texts and investigated upper secondary school students' use of evaluation criteria and deep reasoning. The associations between internet-specific epistemic justifications for knowing and credibility evaluation of online texts are not yet fully understood among adolescents. This study investigated upper secondary school students' (N = 372) abilities to evaluate self-selected authentic online texts and the role of internet-specific epistemic justifications in students' evaluation performance when solving a health-related information problem. Students selected three texts with Google Custom Search Engine and evaluated their credibility. Students' evaluation performance across the three texts was determined according to the different aspects evaluated (author, venue, intentions, evidence and corroboration) and the depth of their evaluations. Students also filled in the Internet-Specific Epistemic Justifications (ISEJ) inventory previously validated with pre-service teachers. The results revealed considerable differences in students' abilities to evaluate online texts. Students' beliefs in justification by authority and justification by multiple sources positively predicted their evaluation performance similarly in both topics. The findings suggest that the ISEJ inventory is also valid for upper secondary school students. Students should be explicitly taught to evaluate different credibility aspects and scaffolded to deeply engage with online information.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • adolscents
  • credibility evaluation
  • internet-specific justication beliefs
  • justifications for knowing
  • sourcing
  • online inquiry

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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