Critical Online Reasoning Assessment (CORA)

The Internet and social media are among the most widely used sources of information today, and university students are more likely to learn through social and mass media than through traditional university learning sources. Since (mass) media and social media often contain incomplete or biased information, students’ skills in critically judging online information and sources are of central importance. While typically these skills are assessed by only using student self-reports, we successfully adapted and developed an innovative computer-based assessment for measuring the ability to critically judge online sources in higher education: the Critical Online Reasoning Assessment (CORA).

The original test, the Civic Online Reasoning Assessment, was developed by the Stanford History Education Group in the U.S. in 2016 and features real cases and open web searches. The tasks assess university students’ ability to judge online sources and reason from evidence on contentious issues presented on social media. In addition to performing an open web search and judging online information, the students are also prompted to write an open-ended response to each task. The difficulty lies in making a judgement in a short period of time while recognizing hidden interests and biased (re)presentations of information. Additionally, the participants’ browser history, sociodemographic data and media behavior information are recorded, and the written responses are evaluated by independent human raters in accordance with a rating scheme. On the basis of this data, we investigate students’ online research behavior and analyze which personal characteristics and media behavior patterns influence students’ ability to critically judge online sources.

The German CORA has been comprehensively validated at Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU) Mainz and is intended for use in further large-scale studies at JGU Mainz and other higher education institutions. For more information, please contact:


Professor Dr. Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia

Gutenberg School of Management and Economics

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

55099 Mainz, GERMANY

Phone +49 6131 39-22009

Fax +49 6131 39-22095