Effective Teaching and Learning with Information Sources
Most of us have mastered the skill of using a search engine to surf the Web for the least expensive book or airline ticket, but where do we learn how to search effectively and efficiently when it comes to scholarly research? Consider the research challenges of locating and evaluating a quantitative study investigating political bias in the media, for example, or on the effect of Web-browsing interfaces in Web-based instruction. The challenge seems even greater given the growing number and variety of sources available. As members of the JMU community, we are fortunate to have access to a valuable and expanding collection of library resources. With this abundance of information choices, the need for critical evaluation of information and all its sources has never been greater.
Many researchers, regardless of ability or experience, will be seduced by the Principle of Least Effort. According to this principle, as defined by Thomas Mann, General Reference Librarian at the US Library of Congress, most researchers tend to be satisfied with the most easily available sources, regardless of quality. It is not surprising that novice academic researchers often follow the path of least resistance, relying on the Internet, a comfortable, familiar font of "facts" that informs other areas of their lives. Students can’t be expected to intuitively determine and successfully apply the information skills required of them in their chosen academic field and ultimately in their profession. A college education today must include the necessary preparation for lifelong learning.
Our Go for the Gold online tutorial is a foundational program in for students to begin to acquire information literacy competency skills in their first year on campus. Ideally, this initial experience is extended across disciplines as teaching faculty in academic departments define "information literacy" in the context of the major and, within the framework of the curriculum, develop a plan to teach and reinforce the competency skills in required courses. Liaison librarians are ready to support you in this effort.
Some departments have already begun to integrate information literacy into the required major courses. If your coursework includes a research-based assignment, share your knowledge of information sources with your students. Here are some suggestions to help guide your students' on their way to improving research and critical thinking skills, while avoiding plagiarism at the same time:
NOTE: Full-time JMU faculty are invited to apply for a workshop entitled Information Literacy for Teaching and Learning: A Workshop for Faculty and Librarians to be held on May 9-11, 2006 in Carrier Library. During the workshop each faculty member/liaison librarian pair will design a course-related assignment that incorporates information-seeking and evaluation skills. Dr. Terry Mech, Library Director at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, will facilitate the workshop. Dr. Mech served on the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Advisory Panel on Information Literacy that prepared Developing Research and Communication Skills: Guidelines for Information Literacy in the Curriculum, 2003. Deadline for Application: Feb. 27, 2006
Thompson, Christen. "Information Illiterate or Lazy: How College Students Use the Web for Research." portal: Libraries and the Academy 3.2 (2003): 259-268.
"Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education." Association of College and Research Libraies. 07 Feb. 2006 <http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlstandards/informationliteracycompetency.htm>.
Parker-Gibson, Necia. "Library Assignments." College Teaching 49.2 (2001): 65-70.
Mann, Thomas. Library Research Methods. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Houdeyshell, Mara L. "Navigating the Library." College Teaching 51.2 (2003): 76-78.
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