Are Your Students Ready for College Level Research?


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Are the students in your high school prepared to do research at the college level? I worked together with a college librarian on this presentation.

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  • We wish that all teachers & professors would explain the “whys” of research, too!
  • You wouldn’t be searching if you already had all of the answers. Uncertainty and uneasiness is natural.
  • Our goal is to demystify- but it’s not always the goal of the instructors sending the students out to do research…
  • Anne: At Plymouth we encourage “doable” assignments, or ones that don’t feel like a library “hazing” experience.  But we don’t always get our point across even after we take the time to write a professor to explain problems with particular assignments. When our Reference Coordinator sent a very nice, carefully worded message to the Instructor explaining why a First Year Student would find it hard to find a book on "why people cheat in relationships" and showed her how difficult it would be to do such a search using the library catalog, we got this response...(see highlighted section in particular).We hope that you can avoid these kinds of hazing experiences in your library, but if you can't, you can rest assured that whatever they learn from you in the high school library is your time well spent.
  • In addition to working with teachers on “doable assignments”
  • Now go out and prove your thesis by finding facts to back up your statement. This is where the real research begins.
  • I don’t want students to feel like they are stumbling around- and sifting through information until they find an article that MIGHT fit
  • So we use this…
  • Common core: primary sources.
  • PSU uses LigGuides too……. as does the University of NH, Southern NH University,  and Keene State College
  • UNH
  • And SNHU
  • Since many of our students remain in NH for higher education (UNH and PSU, for example, report an in-state population of nearly 60%), there is a good chance that your current students will see the guides in the future so now is the time to introduce them to this very helpful service
  • Our purpose today is not to sell you on the LibGuides product specifically.  However, unless you want to spend a lot of unnecessary time creating HTML code for your own pages, LibGuides allow you to organize your library instruction and get students started in the right direction. 
  • See this handout?  It looks nice, doesn’t it?  (bit of sarcasm here for dramatic effect ☺)  Full of information?  Helpful?  We thought so…..until we noticed more of them left in the classroom, or put in the trash, or lost. 
  • Now when students come to the Reference Desk for assistance, particularly the first year students who we know have had some library instruction with an online guide, we can say….”OK, let’s first take a look at your FYS libguide prepared by (insert name of librarian) and see what they’ve told you to look for.”  It makes instruction at the desk more efficient and far less stressful for the student.  Plus, repetition never hurts.And look at what else is here? Direct links to the resources that will be most helpful for the student!
  • Remember that paper handout? It looked very neat and complete, and even had links to the sources students should use to complete the assignment. But those links don’t work so well in a printed document and we found students didn’t take the time to type them into their browser and work from there. As one new Psychology professor told me, now students have no excuses…..the information is all there right at their fingertips and available in the middle of the night.
  • Also, remember the Project Information Literacy Project and what the study says about how difficult it is for students to get started. My colleague Bob Fitzpatrick, takes the edge off that problem by suggesting a few topic ideas to students in his First Year Seminar section on Disney: Magic Kingdom or Evil Empire. He even provided links to a sample article. AND defined what the Disney empire was all about.
  • Almost 800,000,000 results- and the first two pages are all .com sites & wikipedia
  • Relevance?
  • We contacted Google and had them link our scholar results (based on IP address) with our Ebsco account.
  • Depending on how you view Google Scholar: you either change the “Preferences” or the “Settings” and go to “Library Links”
  • You have to contact google to get your library included in Library Search
  • Now all of the links are live
  • Currency is good… but should not be the only criteria for assessing credibility.Students in this sample used a lot of “self-taught” methods: interface design/familiarity
  • The CRAAP test is easy to explain and goes beyond just the currency factor. The best way to teach the CRAAP test is to show GOOD and then show QUESTIONABLE websites. I avoid the word “bad” because often a site is not all bad… has a bias or some flaw but may have good information. I remind students that it’s okay to use a site with bias (i.e. the NRA, or the anti-gun movement’s website) but let your reader know that YOU know the bias.
  • Let’s create familiarity with OTHER websites.
  • I will embed the video (it doesn’t always work but the wikipedia link works
  • Let’s make a policy that we don’t accept Wikipedia as a citation on anything.
  • Utilize databases to support our students on research. At college they may have access to 100 databases from their libraries… we seriously have 10.
  • Psu databases
  • Get AP students & college bound seniors used to using Academic Search Premier. Introducing ASP and other databases can be really helpful for your students. Most University’s review it in a First Year Seminar or Composition course, but getting familiar with journal databases is very important because the number of available resources dramatically increases. For example, PSU has 88. On one University website, they had 24 alone in just the A’s!
  • Pepperdine: That’s why many universities break them down into subject specific databases as you can see here. (It might be good for librarians to see this in case they want to try it in their own libraries).
  • PSU Databases list- we break out databases down by subject as shown here.  This was done to direct student research before we began using LibGuides, but I still make use of it when answering a Reference Question.
  • We spend a lot of time showing students how to use the catalog.  This fall Lamson is migrating to OCLC’s WorldShare product.  Students familiar with WorldCat will find it easy to use.  Here is a quick search I did on chocolate as a subject term.  Notice how WorldShare has almost a google books kind of “feel” to it.
  • I really like the way Pepperdine highlights its catalog with the FIND IT, GET IT, USE IT label.  It naturally draws a user's attention given its location on the screen.  
  • 4:11 As you will see in this short clip, finding books can see be an adventure for some students.  And by the way, these students had worked in the Library and were heavy library users.  Don't think the time you spend talking about how to do a title search will be wasted.  
  • We've talked a lot about cool tools like Google and LibGuides that will help you teach your students information literacy skills.  One of the new tools we discovered this semester was JOIN ME.  This free downloadable pogram allows you to share your screen with a student who calls you with a question.  Rather than slowly progressing through the screens hoping that you and the user are on the same page, so to speak, you can have the student share your screen so they can see the steps in a search process.
  • At every level of the education system, each one thinks that their lives would be so much easier if the level below them ONLY (like we have a lot of spare time) prepared them, for example, to do library research at the high school level.  Or at the college level.  I don't believe that, but I am doing my part to get them started's a picture of 7th and 8th graders from Rumney Elementary School doing an author research project at Lamson.  If I've learned one thing, it's that you can't repeat yourself enough about good resources, search skills, and the relevance of a librarian.  And I have a lot to learn about what you do!  So, next year I will be spending my sabbatical working in school libraries in SAU 48.  If you want me to visit your library, let me know.
  • If time…
  • Are Your Students Ready for College Level Research?

    1. 1. “Research is meant to probe questions which interest us, to carefully study the ideas and record from those who have written before us, and add to the world’s knowledge pool. Think of it as detective work, work which draws definite conclusions about a question based on already existing evidence.” ~ Humanities Professor"Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1 Apr2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    2. 2. “The only way to get students over the fear of research is to demystify it by integrating research at all levels of teaching.” ~ University Professor"Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1 Apr2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    3. 3. For over three fourths (84%) of the students surveyed, the most difficult step of the course-related research process was getting started."Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1Apr 2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    4. 4. Students Report: Starting Research is the HardestPart “I never know what to look for. I start “The longest sifting through part of research websites and is getting to the databases until I question to find an article that ask.” might fit.” ~ College ~ College Freshman Sophomore"Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1 Apr2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    5. 5. “The hardest thing for me is getting 1-million results in Google and then deciding which ones to use. I guess I just use the ones on the first or second page. I rarely go beyond that.” ~College Freshman"Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1 Apr2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    6. 6. “Typing something “When evaluating a into Google and source I always finding the same choose the most information from recent one in the different sites verifies results list. Currency information for me.” is always important.” ~ College Student ~ College Student"Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1Apr 2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    7. 7. “The design of a site does a lot for me, if “When I’m the color is bright searching for pink, or lots of information, I like to ads, or looks like it use a site like was made by a 15- Wikipedia because year-old, then it isn’t I’m familiar with it.” worth my time.” ~ College Student ~College Student"Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University of Washington, 1 Apr2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    8. 8. Some comments on Wikipedia
    9. 9. Some comments on Wikipedia
    10. 10. "Project Information Literacy." : A Large-Scale Study About Early Adults and Their Research Habits. University ofWashington, 1 Apr 2011. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <>.
    11. 11. The Lamson Library Funny Search Video
    12. 12. OLD PLAGIARISM POLICYFrom the SRHS StudentHandbook
    13. 13. NEW PLAGIARISM POLICY (currentlydraft) librarians, counselors, administrators,Board at each school made up Administration will establish an Academic Integrity of: teachers, and students. The Process: 1. Cheating and plagiarism are considered serious offenses at Sanborn. All cases will result in a mandatory report to the administration and a reassessment by the teacher. 2. At the beginning of the year, each faculty member will include a course academic integrity policy on his or her syllabus. 3. Administration will track all cases of plagiarism for each Sanborn student. Repeat offenders will have more serious consequences. 4. Administration or faculty may refer cases to the Academic Integrity Board by sending a dossier to the Chair. The dossier will include a memo explaining the situation and a copy of the artifact in question. 5. The Academic Integrity Board will meet within one week of the report to discuss the incident and recommend a consequence to the administration.
    14. 14. NEW PLAGIARISM POLICY (currentlydraft) Continued… In addition to a mandatory reassessment, offenses may result in any of the following consequences based the form of plagiarism. • Additional assignment • Notification of parents • Referral to Academic Integrity board • Suspension from sports team • Removal from honor society • Parking pass revoked • Loss of dance or prom privilege • Detention • In school or out of school suspension
    15. 15. Pamela Anne Marie Colburn Jung Harland Library Director Outreach LibrarianSanborn Regional High School Lamson Library Learning Kingston NH CommonEmail | Plymouth NH Email |