From Wikipedia to WOW! Ideas for getting better results from research assignments
What we’ll talk/think about today Observations about student research behavior Ideas for research assignment design Ideas for research assignment handout design Articulating outcomes for research assignments
What do we know about student research behavior? Anxiety about how to start Procrastination Tech savvy ≠ information savvy Use risk-averse research strategies Rely on the written assignment for guidance Want to learn something new and do a good job (Head & Eisenberg, 2010)
“I don’t know how to start!” “I don’t understand the purpose of research” (“I’m not an expert on the topic, so how am I supposed to write about it?”) (I already know what I think about this topic, so why do I even have to do research?) “I don’t understand the research process” (Am I just supposed to take a bunch of other people’s ideas and string them together?) (My instructor just says to “use the right amount” of sources. How many is that?) (Actually, I already wrote the paper, but I just need to find 3 sources to add in.) “I don’t understand the scope of what’s expected of me.” (I feel totally overwhelmed by this project.)
Tech savvy ≠ information savvy.ProQuest? JSTOR? Web? Wikipedia? Interviews? Books? PsycArticles? Scholarly journals? Newspapers? Government sources? Statistics? Subject encyclopedias? ebooks? CINAHL? Book reviews? Blogs? Tweets? YouTube videos? Magazine articles? The amount of information, different types of information, and number of information resources is overwhelming to everyone. Students often don’t understand how search engines work, and so don’t know how to manipulate them. As subject beginners, don’t usually know enough about a topic or the field to know which tools to use.
As a result of overload, students use familiar search tools & routines 70% of students interviewed in the 2010 PIL study start their research in Wikipedia, even if their professors warned them not to. Students will use the database(s) they have used in the past, regardless of the assignment.
Students use your written handouts as their primary research guide The 2010 PIL Progress Report found that most of their sample of 191 assignment handouts emphasized mechanics of how to set up the paper, but not many specifics about how to conduct the research process itself. The resources most often referred to in handouts were “the library shelves” or “the library databases” (only 8% of the sample of community college assignment handouts suggested talking with a librarian.)
Students care about doing quality work, and want to learn something new 78% of the students surveyed in the Information Literacy Project said that doing comprehensive research and learning about their topics was important to them.
Ideas for research assignment design Concordia College: http://library.concordia.ca/services/users/faculty/infolit/infolit-assign.php GustavusAdolphus College: https://gustavus.edu/library/instructionprogram.html Gettysburg College: http://www.gettysburg.edu/library/information/departments/reference/instruction/assignments.dot Webliographyfrom: Jarson, Jennifer. “Information Literacy and Higher Education: A Toolkit for Curricular Integration.” College and Research Libraries News 71.10 (2010): 534-538. Print.
Works Cited Head, Alison, and Michael Eisenberg. “Truth Be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age.” Progress Information Literacy Project Report. University of Washington iSchool. 1 Nov. 2010. Web. 17 Feb. 2011.