Undergraduates’ Evaluations of Developmental Claims and Their Identification of Information Sources

Sherry K. Bain, University of Tennessee
Robert L. Williams, University of Tennessee
Rachael Isaacs, University of Tennessee
Ashley Williams, University of Tennessee
Susan Stockdale, Kennesaw State University


Students in a large human development course rated the accuracy of 50 developmental claims. Half of the claims were specifically embedded in the course content, but the remaining claims were not addressed in the course. Students also identified the major information source for each developmental claim rated. From the beginning to the end of the course, students (especially high performers) improved in evaluating the accuracy of course-related developmental claims and increasingly attributed their ratings of these claims to professional information sources. Our study underscores the importance of sensitizing students to the role of research evidence in judging the credibility of claims in general education courses.