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Understanding how students search for information
 

Understanding how students search for information

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Presented by Beth Ruane and Missy Roser as part of the CARLI Colloquium, "Connecting Libraries and Users: Anthropologists Helping Librarians Meet 21st Century Challenges,” May 21, 2010, Illinois ...

Presented by Beth Ruane and Missy Roser as part of the CARLI Colloquium, "Connecting Libraries and Users: Anthropologists Helping Librarians Meet 21st Century Challenges,” May 21, 2010, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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  • +Process brings to mind “grammar wars”: prescriptive (implying judgment) vs descriptive (observed, ethnographic)+Allowed us to get some distance from being a librarian and get equivalent of market research+Transcript analysis, queries for concepts like ‘problems’ or ‘emotions’ brought out themes
  • +First of 4 big themes about how they look for info, manifested in the ‘research process’ videos shadowing students
  • +Faculty know what they’d like to see but don’t always communicate that in great detail+Students are good at finding ways to cope and making their own assumptions
  • +Students aren’t aware of how the research process works, so there’s an acculturation process, too+Need to communicate that there’s trial and error, lots of time involved, and be prepared to fail before success
  • +Often not enough or too much info: have to sift through overwhelming info landscape and evaluate+Research is messy and involves holding sometimes-contradictory ideas in your head and marshalling them
  • +They start with what they know or have had past ‘success’ with (public library, Google, asking friend or parent)+The idea of ‘good enough’ is paramount
  • +Professor is ultimate authority, but they may not have much contact with prof+They’ll go to a trusted person, who is usually not a librarian and may or may not give good info+They want to feel comfortable and do what seems easiest (like river finding shortest path and jumping banks)
  • +Like that possibly mythical place, Timbuktu, and there’s only one road in+They often seek to prove a thesis they’ve already decided on and need sources to support predetermined idea
  • +They don’t realize that it’s an iterative process, which sometimes means modifying an original idea+‘Easy’ topic vs ‘interesting’ topic+Already know what to say, why bother reading books? Also, all my friends do it this way
  • +Students find ‘easy ways’ to do research that seem much harder to us, given what we know and use+Painful for us to see, but we have to remember when offering help that students aren’t us

Understanding how students search for information Understanding how students search for information Presentation Transcript

  • Understanding How Students Search for Information: Key Observations
    Missy Roser & Beth Ruane| DePaul University
    NationaalArchief
  • Students are often fuzzy about instructors’ expectations and research requirements
    Tambako the Jaguar
  • “Yeah, [the instructor] definitely gave us a sheet, just a paper of the guidelines that he was looking for in the paper and I don't remember what they were.”“When teachers are so vague I just kind of do whatever I want to do because if they don't give you all these set guidelines you don't have to follow those rules, there's no rules to abide by, so you just kind of make your own. Like you just make assumptions.”“[The professor] showed us the school database, which I never even knew about until that class, and she had a lot of helpful forms. [Q: Tell me what you mean by database?] I'm not too sure. I'm assuming it's what the school has collected as actual original print forms of what we're reading, and then collecting it into a database in which it could be offered to all students here at DePaul. I'm not too sure if that's what it is, but I think so.”
    Tambako the Jaguar
  • Students are unsure of how the search process works
    New York Public Library
  • “The only roadblock I would say is too much information for my last research paper. There was a lot of information and I got a little worried that maybe if I read something in this book it would say something completely different in the other book, and then I would have to make that decision between which one do I agree with or which one is more relevant.”“When it comes to history ... this level of resources is so huge and so you're not able to grasp it all within a 2 week timeframe. At the same time, you don't want to be rummaging through history textbooks. ... I mean, they're fabulous encyclopedias, but those are too short, so you've got a page and a half or an entire book, and there's very little in between. It would be nice if there were an online database that mimicked what Wikipedia did but was trustworthy for professors. Because the best equivalent that I can think of or at least that DePaul has is Encyclopedia Britannica, which is pure crap. There's very few articles, they're very short. They're sporadic in a weird way. They're unusable. I never use it anymore. It's awful.”“I probably needed more time [writing this paper]. Just because I wasn't expecting to see so much stuff out there and having to wade through it all.”
    New York Public Library
  • Students stick with what is familiar and comfortable
    Fatty Tuna
  • “I’m part of the McNair Scholars program, so I went to [the assistant director] and he knew how to explain everything to me.”“I used a lot of information from one of my professors.  He’s published a lot of articles and books.”“A lot of the problems I've encountered had to do with reliability. I mean, if I'm looking for movie fads and I type in "High School Musical" I'm going to get a lot of Disney hoohah saying, "Oh, this is the best movie ever." But nothing really supporting my idea unless I really dig deep and go to page 64 of 4000 in Google.”“Teachers would actually bring us to the library and librarians would help us out and stuff, but in the end I wouldn't end up using it. I would just browse the internet rather than the school database or anything. I just find that a lot easier.”“I shared my topic [with my friends] and what I thought about it and just asked them what they did, and just see some similarities between what I would read on the internet and then what they actually thought about it. Pretty much that. Using their words was easier to convey in my paper than sometimes the scholarly articles. They are pretty much the same thing, but it was just a lot easier to understand.”
    Fatty Tuna
  • Students approach research with a fixed destination in mind
  • “When like well, I would come up with an idea first like the one issue regarding bilingualism, education I thought that first and then when I would look through the source I would read things that the author said that was really pertained to how, it’s like the author was saying what I wanted to say, so I used their ideas, you know but put it in my own words.”“I was able to find articles that pertained to the topic, but not articles that necessarily supported my view. Or even supported a particular viewpoint more that said this is the problem, we think you should consider this, this, and this...part of it too was just I chose a hard topic. You know, I think that if I had chosen something a little bit simpler I might not have run into these issues as much.”
    “I basically Googled and Yahooed everything. ... I just used online articles. Other than that one specific research assignment where they forced us to use libraries, I never used any books in any classes ever. And I got all, like B+s and above. ... It just felt like it was a lot of work, like having to go to the library, look through all the aisles, find the books...I know that's not even the hard part, it's just the fact that I know I've got to read the books. It was just like why am I even going to go over there if I'm not even really reading? ... But my friends all use the internet, and we don't go to the library. That's kind of why I think I feel comfortable not going.”
  • Knowing this, what do we do differently?
    oberazzi