The Chronicle, “Research-Assignment Handouts Give Students Meager Guidance, Survey Finds,” reviews the results of the latest survey from Project Information Literacy, finding that we are handing out assignments to create research without enough information to accomplish it.
Here’s a case where we could be encouraging the use of technology, such as library databases or the Internet, instead of leaving students to their own devices. This is one of my favorite technology items to discuss with faculty–that students may be savvy with trackpads and mice and keyboards, but they don’t know how to use technology for productive work! Yes, I indeed suggest that faculty need to take the lead in teaching how to use available technologies to conduct research.
In addition, the study shows that faculty are still assigning the same old traditional essay, and not asking for more creative multimedia presentations of research. I’m sure part of the reason might be that on the faculty side of academia, that sort of research will still not get you tenure (if you are lucky enough to be on such a track). But on the student side of academia, we look pretty lame and stodgy and out of touch. What world are we preparing them for with such old formulaic papers? Are we still preparing them to be us as our profs did?
As I said in yesterday’s post, it won’t be easy to give advice about methods we don’t use in our own research (past or present), but it really is necessary. We can surely expect students to do all kinds of research from items on library shelves to multimedia resources on the Web. For a resource–for both you and your students–you might begin here at the Cornell Digital Literacy Resource site: http://digitalliteracy.cornell.edu/ On their Research Guide page, there are interesting sections with advice on how to use Google, how to go beyond Google, and what to think about Wikipedia.
It’s a brave new world (again) and one of us will have to get our feet wet. Have you tried assigning new types of research? Do you know someone who has? Get the conversation going among your peers.