I had two experiences this week that brought home the message strongly visualized in the excellent graphic below by OnlineEducation.net.
In one class I visited students were conducting some independent research to review a topic. They were using each other, their textbooks, class notes and their laptops to clarify any concepts and terms that still seemed fuzzy. Over and over again I am shocked by how students go about searching. I frequently ask students what strategies they use when I’m visiting classes. Despite our best efforts to teach search strategies across the curriculum it seems some students never move beyond the default: ‘I just type my question into the search box. ‘ Then, from the seven million or so hits they get they simply pick from the first page that comes up. How do we support students to move beyond this threshold?!
The other situation was a conversation with librarians from another school. We were meeting to share how we are tackling the challenge of Creating a Culture of Citation. It was a rich discussion and again it highlighted the need for students to become much more competent at digital research including developing effective search strategies, in evaluating and validating sources, and citing sources appropriately.
As OnlineEducation.net points out:
the instant gratification of the modern search engine certainly may pose some unhealthy research habits
Digital research skills are essential to master for life in the digital age. If we are serious about preparing students for life, then these skills need to be taught and reinforced across every discipline.