Research and Referencing for all Year 12 Students

During October I ran a series of workshops for all our Year 12 students entitled “Research & Referencing“. This was part of a series of sessions looking at Study Skills in general, from Time Management and Skimming and Scanning (the latter I created an activity for).

My session was in two parts.

Research

Firstly we discussed the students favourite first ports of call – Wikipedia and Google. Many are aware of the downsides, lack of authority, reliability, volume of hits etc, but very few knew about the alternatives, – they do now!

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

I demonstrated the Oliver Homepage (our OPAC system) and showed them a quick search which found both books and (reliable & educational) websites. I also showed our links to our local library service and the British Library, from which they can, for a small fee, get their hands on out of print books that may be really useful for their studies.

I then demonstrated that from the Oliver Homepage they could gain access to the databases that the MRC subscribes to. The key ones for P16 studies being Britannica Encyclopedia; NewsBank and InfoTrac. I gave a brief demonstration for each of these and encouraged them to give them a try as their teachers will be expecting them to use a wider variety of sources than just Google and Wikipedia. The internal links within Britannica to other journal articles and the Webs Best Bits are invaluable on their own and makes a great starting point for research. Plus no-one will ever know if they use the Primary version to get a really simple definition to help them! With all of these you can save, print and email results – which is a great way of checking with your teacher that you are on the right track.

The second part of the session looked at:

Referencing

I installed Plato onto our VLE back in 2008 and use this fabulous resource when teaching reference skills. I showed a few videos to introduce the concept of Plagiarism or cheating, then asked them to discuss/ answer 5 ‘Plagiarism’ questions with a partner before showing a series of clips about common plagiarism mistakes.

Collusion, Copying, Paraphrasing, and incorrect Citation.

The two most contentious of these were collusion, “but our teacher tells us to work together” and paraphrasing “doesn’t everyone do this?” and led to some interesting conversations with students (Great!).

I shared examples of good practice, and then some video clips I put together (with the aid of Plato) to demonstrate how to reference a book, journal and website. Interesting to find out that some weren’t familiar with the word ‘journal’, and that the date of access is required for websites. I advised them that before they started researching online, they create a Word document and put todays date at the top, all they then need to do is paste in any useful URLs to keep a record.

Another look at the 5 ‘plagiarism’ questions showed that some had changed their minds and answers. When going through the answers the question that sparked the biggest debate was about the copyright symbol not being essential for the ‘work’ (photo, article,video etc) to be protected. During one session we also had a discussion about using Creative Commons.

So I sent them off into the big bad wide world of research and information overload, with a reminder that at any point over the next two years they can come back and ask for a reminder “about that newspaper database you showed us….”, or for guidance about references.

I can only hope that this has helped solve the problem of when I have worked with Year 13 groups who complain that they “should have been shown this at the start of Year 12”. Well this year they have been!

Year 13 Extended Project

Extended LearningI recently worked with a group of Year 13 students who were in the early stages of planning their Extended Learning Projects. It still amazes, and disappoints me, how many students in KS5 cannot remember or don’t know about our Oliver Database and all the online databases we subscribe to for them.

So this was a refresher -giving them a demonstration of how to search

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Oliver, and how to get to and use Britannica Encyclopedia, NewsBank, and InfoTrac. I just covered the basics as the best way to learn how to use these database is to get in there and use them!

I gave them a mini ‘tour’ of the MRC focussing on our extensive periodical section, and then invited them to come back in the future for any further help. They seemed to go off happier and keen to start using the things I had shown them…. fingers crossed!

 

 

Science Research Session

Yesterday I went into a post 16 (Year 12) Science lesson to discuss how they approach their research.

Where do they start when given a piece of research?

Not surprisingly the top two answers were…

Google and Wikipedia.

So we discussed some of the pitfalls of each of these options, pointed out ways to use these safely; to get reliable and relevant  information from them and a few hints and tips, before going onto show them some alternatives.

These alternatives can be found via the Oliver Homepageand not only would these provide a more reliable place to start  a research project, would, with practice save you valuable time.

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Have a look at the Research Guides for details on how to use the databases.