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Friday, July 8, 2011

Back on Track

Hello all,

Though it has been over a year since my last post, I have resolved to begin posting again.

Stay Tuned.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Source Validation in the Age of Google

Yesterday, I watched a webinar originally aired on September 21, entitled "Source Validation in the Age of Google," sponsored by Library Journal and Oxford Bibliographies Online. 

The moderator, Cheryl Laguardia, who writes the e-reviews in Library Journal that I look forward to reading every month, interviewed 3 speakers: Luis Rodriguez, university librarian at Kean University, Margaret King, professor of history at Brooklyn College, and Casper Grathwohl, vice president and reference publisher at Oxford University Press.

The focus of discussion centered on facilitating students' ability to wade through the sea of information (in a large part, thanks to Google) and identify quality information for research. An interesting example, given by Mr. Grathwohl, of a student's inability to search and validate, is the following:
A student is doing a research paper on Adolf Hitler. To find information, the student does a keyword search for "Adolf Hitler" in Google Scholar. The student selects the first result, which is an article about Hitler, published in 1945, by Life Magazine.

What Grathwohl noted, is that the student thought this was an adequate resource for information, and did not consider needing to go forward. For obvious reasons, the date invalidates the source as a "starting point" for research, in addition to other factors, one may note after reading the article, critically.

This got me thinking about the 5 ACRL standards of research: (http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/standards.pdf)
beginning with the all important: determine the extent of information needed. To achieve the first standard, several performance indicators are given, among them for example, the student defining and articulating the need for information.
One outcome of the above indicator includes picking a research paper topic, articulating a thesis, using general resources, modifying them based on findings, identifying key concepts, and understanding the creation of new information based on the synthesis of the old.

Students attempting a research paper, would be best off with the above suggestions. However, my   students (and I am certain others like them) are looking for the fastest route possible (something also mentioned on the webinar). Moreover, because the LIB 100 course I teach, is structured around the 5 ACRL standards, determining the extent of information needed is taught in the beginning of the course from a superficial level (finding a book in the catalog), to later on in the course, on a more advanced one (constructing a three item bibliography and modified research paper).

My students begin their research, most often with Google, which I do not discourage, but rather, prefer to instruct them on how to use Google properly (starting with Google is not a source of information in itself, it is a search engine). Therefore, to aid students' ability to determine the nature and extent of information, when using Google, I suggest the following:

1. Have students jot down a few focused research questions regarding the topic they are looking for.
example: child abuse
What is child abuse?
What causes child abuse?
Who is considered a child?
What is the punishment for child abuse?
How to prevent child abuse?

2. Bearing in mind that Google is a keyword search, formulate specific searches, based on the questions written down.
example: sample searches
definition of child abuse
causes of child abuse
punishment of child abuse
prevention of child abuse

I illustrated this successfully in class, particularly since I demonstrated to students how the search results change, to reflect the changing keywords, thereby doing away with websites that do no relate to the specific keyword search. This extra step of jotting down sample searches helps students to obtain specific results for those questions. When they have answered these specific questions, students can then use their answers to create a main research question for a paper, speech, or major task in the workforce.

Other topics (database usage, students lack of search skills) were discussed during the webinar, but this one, provided me with the most food for thought and resulted in a new lesson plan on specific research questions, using Google.

Thank you Library Journal and Oxford Bibliographies Online!

Librarian in the Classroom

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome to Librarian in the Classroom

Welcome One and All,

This blog was actually started way back when in August of this year. However, due to a very busy semester (and life getting in the way), this is the first ever post. 
On break between the summer and fall semesters (more on that to come) with no classes to teach, I can utilize my free time to develop my creative urges.

To begin, a little about myself:
I graduated with a Masters in Information and Library Science in 2008, from Pratt Institute (the oldest continually ALA accredited school in the country). I had worked in academic libraries for two years, before switching from behind the desk in the library, to the front of the smart board of a classroom.
My current position is Assistant Professor of Information Literacy at a small, for profit college, in New York.

Ere go, the main focus of this blog will be to discuss curriculum, classroom management, developments in the library world, and all things related to Information Literacy. Now in my second year of teaching, I am ready to post an assortment of (mostly) professional musings, for a chance at collaboration with my peers and digital documentation of good ideas (record keeping is after all is at the core of librarianship).

Let's get started,
Librarian in the Classroom