Saturday, June 21, 2008

Google and Research

Andy Guess, “Research Methods ‘Beyond Google,” Inside Higher Education, 17 June 2008, describes efforts at some universities to develop information competency programs. Here is an excerpt:

“The problem is near-universal for professors who discover, upon assigning research projects, that superficial searches on the Internet and facts gleaned from Wikipedia are the extent — or a significant portion — of far too many of their students’ investigations. It’s not necessarily an issue of laziness, perhaps, but one of exposure to a set of research practices and a mindset that encourages critical thinking about competing online sources. Just because students walk in the door as “digital natives,” the common observation goes, doesn’t mean they’re equipped to handle the heavy lifting of digital databases and proprietary search engines that comprise the bulk of modern, online research techniques.

Yet the gap between students’ research competence and what’s required of a modern college graduate can’t easily be solved without a framework that encompasses faculty members, librarians, technicians and those who study teaching methods. After all, faculty control their syllabuses, librarians are often confined to the reference desk and IT staff are there for when the network crashes.

So instead of expecting students to wander into the library themselves, some professors are bringing the stacks into the classroom. In an effort to nudge curriculums in the direction of incorporating research methodology into the fabric of courses themselves, two universities are experimenting with voluntary programs that encourage cooperation between faculty and research specialists to develop assignments that will serve as a hands-on and collaborative introduction to the relevant skills and practices.”

The article can be found at

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