October 25, 2011
Develop skills in scholarly disciplinary research
Many disciplines expect that students will develop the ability to conduct research using the scholarly disciplinary literature. These research skills require information literacy skills in which the student can locate and evaluate sources of information.
This tip describes a collaborative project developed for a survey-level American history course by a historian and a reference librarian. This assignment could be adapted to courses in any discipline that uses visual materials (art work, artifacts, and photographs) as part of scholarly work.
Learning Outcomes for the Assignment
Assign a different image or artifact to each student. The student’s task is to write a 4-5 page essay that explains the image or artifact using information from scholarly sources and places the image or artifact in historical context.
Students need approximately two to three weeks to complete the research and writing components of this assignment, including time to request and receive materials available only through inter-library loan. Encourage students to meet with reference librarians out of class if they have additional questions about researching their image.
Essays must include the following elements
Library instruction associated with the assignment
The students will need two consecutive class sessions with a reference librarian in the library classroom. The first session is a library workshop demonstrating how to conduct searches in the appropriate library databases. The second session should be devoted to a discussion of the ethical use of information and the importance of citing sources. A brief demonstration of citation management software (e.g., RefWorks) can be provided or students can be referred to the library tutorial (http://library.uwf.edu/tutorials/writing_skills/refworks/). In addition, students should use some time during this session to begin their search for information about their assigned image. Both the instructor and the librarian should be available to answer specific questions about using the databases and evaluating the usefulness of information related to the images.
This tip is based on teaching strategy suggested by Suzanne K. McCormack, PhD (Department of History/Social Sciences and Center for Innovative Teaching, Learning & Assessment) and Susan G. Miller (Librarian), Community College of Rhode Island (http://www.ccri.edu/citla).
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