How do students choose their sources? After finishing the video I created about “authority of sources” I have come to the conclusion one thing I’d like to know more about is how students make those choices, so I can include their thoughts in the video as well.
So I’ve been talking to students when they’ve been in the library and asking them about how they choose sources on our student blog, so I can eventually include that.
I struggle sometimes when a class comes in with “convincing” even the teachers not to have students just “google” every topic, much less convincing the students. We all know Google can be very effective as can Wikipedia, obviously, for a first crack at a project.
(Many of our teachers do ask students to include book sources, or allow Wikipedia as background but not as a source, or only allow one online encyclopedia, etc., so they are trying to get students to explore a variety of sources.)
However, at our campus, since most of our students are college bound, I also feel that it’s important that they are aware of databases and the deeper web. They may rarely “walk into” a college library because they’ll be using the online databases from their dorm rooms, most likely, if they discover them. I feel it’s important as librarians that we make sure students discover them, despite all the downsides, like the more difficult entry way, the fact that selection of sources may be required, etc.
I do understand that we need to, as Doug Johnson says, work with the students we have, so I think it’s important to understand how they approach this and how we can scaffold what they are doing.
For example, can’t we work with them on how to use Wikipedia more effectively(checking the background discussions on their topic?) or how to use Google’s more advanced searching when needed?
And on her blog, The WebFooted Book Lady ponders what is good enough for our students?
“In my job as a teacher librarian I ask myself the “Is this information good enough?” question all the time. Is the activity, or skill the student is practicing more important than the validity of the actual data they are using?”
She goes on:
“The real question should be ‘Are we giving our students the skills to become discerning, ethical users of information?’ Is what we are teaching them good enough?”
Joyce Valenza asked this question at NECC as well.
Do we want our students to be getting what is “good enough”? Or do we want them to push past the obvious, dig deep, think, question and choose what is best in their fields? After all, they will be our presidents, legislators, and CEO’s.
Question is–Do we want leaders who settle for “good enough”?
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/crystalflickr/906569032/