Meaningful Educational Application of Word
As a writing teacher at Jackson Community College, many of my students are just beginning to
learn how to conduct credible research and build outside ideas into their writing. In order to
successfully guide students into the research world, I often request a reference librarian to visit our
classroom and demonstrate how to use the college’s databases, search engines and other various tools
to help them on their research journey. While this has proven partially effective because it exposes
them to new research opportunities, the presentations are often lecture based, limiting student
interaction and participation. The lack of student engagement typically results in disinterest, boredom,
and a general lack of understanding concerning the powerful research tools presented.
To address these problems, I have developed an instructional handout for students to complete
directly following the reference librarian’s visit to our classroom. The instructional handout is based
on a concept developed by Lansing Community College (where I also teach writing) that has proven
useful in helping student writers navigate initial research steps. My goal is to create a document
specific to Jackson Community College’s library resources that guide students through the research
process in an effective way. The document will make a difference in students learning and
understanding of research by providing a medium to practice, navigate and acquire necessary research
The document will be a series of questions and prompts designed to engage learners to travel
through various databases and searches to experiment, become familiar with, and build confidence in
their research abilities. The handout will be completed in small groups and will be used as a
springboard for a whole class discussion and demonstration of research skills.
Assessment of the instructional handout will be based on two different elements. First, students
will need to answer the questions correctly on the handout, demonstrating their ability to peruse JCC’s
library website for specific purposes. Secondly, each group will demonstrate how to find a specific
research objective from the handout. This will place learners in an active role rather than passive
observers and provide an opportunity to experience concepts presented by the librarian firsthand.
Outlined on the following pages is the instructional handout on researching and using Jackson
Community College’s databases.
ENGL 131 Research Seek and Find
1. Use the library’s homepage as the starting point for this activity (go to jccmi.edu and place mouse on the
Students tab. The library will be the fourth item down).
2. Students in each group will find the answer to a specific question(s) listed below.
3. Each group should be prepared to show their classmates how they located the answer to their
Group One: Please list at least two ways you can get help from a librarian without
having to come to JCC’s library
Group Two: Where can you get help with databases through Instructional PowerPoints?
How many different Instructional PowerPoints are available?
Group Three: What types of journals and databases are available to you through JCC’s
What are the differences between the two Issues & Controversies
Group Four: What is the Michigan Electronic Library (MEL)?
What do you need in order to have access to MEL?
What are MEL’s most popular databases?
Group Five: How do you obtain a library card?
How can you renew a borrowed item?
ENGL 131 Research Exercise
In your group, use WilsonSelect Plus or InfoTrac database to find a specialized article (remember
specialized means peer reviewed or refereed journals) on one of the following topics:
1. Should college students be expelled from college for committing plagiarism in a course?
2. Laws banning the use of cell phones while driving will protect the public by keeping our roads
3. Smoking bans or tobacco-free public places should allow some designated smoking areas
instead of a total ban.
4. Copyright laws should be strictly enforced on the Internet in order to protect the creator’s
5. Should video surveillance be permitted on college campuses in order to enhance campus
Once you decide on a topic above, begin by determining a search strategy with your group. What
search terms will you use? What other techniques presented will you try? (i.e. truncation <*>,
connectors <and/or>, or “phrase searching”). Use the following table to keep track of the searches
your group tries:
Determine Your Search: Words: Brainstorm possible variations,
Keyword or Subject? alternatives or synonyms for your words
Evaluate the results: Are you finding sources related to your topic? Are there too many sources? Not
How might you change your search strategy to better the results?
Be prepared to show and tell the class about the search strategy your group developed.