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Last week, I shared an activity encouraging students to move beyond using a Google search to find research. This week’s activity asks students to check the resources they have found for variety.
As was the case last week, Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg’s 2010 article “How Handouts for Research Assignments Guide Today’s College Students” inspired the activity. Head and Eisenberg found that students typically searched only for the kinds of sources required by the assignment. For instance, if the assignment asks students to find two books and an online source, students find only those items.
Instead of prescribing sources for students’ work, this week’s activity asks students to look for variety in their sources and provide brief annotations that explain how they will use the sources.
In the activity as shown below, I removed some information that is relevant only to the students in my classes. The five kinds of research sources came from the course textbook, Markel and Selber’s Technical Communication (12th edition). You can easily customize the activity for your class by using the list of resources from your course textbook. Any textbook that covers writing research projects will include a similar list.
Students are still working on this activity, so I don’t have results to share. I hope students will develop a habit of examining their research for variety. By having them include annotations that indicate how they will use the sources, students should move beyond variety simply for the sake of variety. Their choices have to be useful to their projects. I’m looking forward to reading their responses.
I would love to hear your responses to the activity too. Please leave me a comment below telling me your thoughts or sharing strategies that you use when teaching research projects.
Photo credit: A place to study. by San José Public Library on Flickr, used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
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