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).
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!
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:
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!
They discovered that an easy (or cheats) way of doing this is by looking at the spine of the book, as Fiction books have letters on their spine labels and Non-Fiction have numbers on theirs.
First they had to sort a pile of library books into two piles – one each for Fiction and Non-Fiction and then organise these into the right order:
Alphabetical order for Fiction and Numerical order for N0n-Fiction.
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.
Year 7’s and Year 8’s have all had by now their first IL (Information Literacy) Session.
Year 7’s have an introduction to the MRC – looking at how to borrow, return resources etc.
They were then told to “get lost” in the library, and had a great opportunity to browse and start to learn their way around the MRC – most of them managed to find the shelves with their favourite topic on, and all had an opportunity to borrow their first book.
Year 8’s have had a refresher on choosing keywords when planning their research, practising on picking alternative, narrower and wider keywords, they too had an opportunity to borrow or return resources.
Here is a link to the MRC Planner Pages.
There are other search engines but Google has managed to become a household name across the world. About 70 percent of all online searching goes through Google.
I google, you google, we google.
The word Google was officially recognised as a verb in 2001.
Merriam-Webster defines Google as “to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web”.
Research Hint: Google tip 1
“A deceptively simple tool, the Control F allows you to immediately find the word you’re looking for on a page. After you’ve typed in your search, you can jump directly to the word or phrase in the search list. 90 percent of Internet users don’t know this, and spend valuable time scrolling through pages of information trying to find their key word.” Barseghian 2011
Barseghian, Tina. (2011). 12 Ways To Be More Search Savvy. Available: http://mindshift.kqed.org/2011/09/cracking-the-code-to-the-best-google-search/. Last accessed 06/11/2011.
Google Inc.2011. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition. Retrieved6 September 2011, from all/comptons/article-301005
I’m popping into Year 9 BTEC Science lessons this week to advise them how to research more quickly and find the best, most reliable sources of information. Freeing them up to do the things they want to do!
We’ve been looking at the pitfalls of relying on Wikipedia (unreliable, who created the information and having to check the information in more reliable sources).
The inefficiencies of Search Engines like Google – which roughly only searches 3% of the information available on the web – and still brings you a hit list of thousands of articles, that no one has the time or the willpower to read through.
Instead I reminded the students about the Oliver Homepage, Searching for keywords to find the best books and websites on our database, and showing them some of the online databases they can use courtesy of the MRC. I gave quick demonstrations of Britannica Online; NewsBank; InfoTrac and Clipbank; plus I pointed out the guides to referencing and bibliographies.
They spent the rest of the lesson researching topics like electromagnetic spectrum and BP Oil Spills and were able to find videos and newspaper articles as well as books and websites. Cool.
Let’s hope they remember the next time they are set some research based work.