Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Information Literacy Strategies: Identifying Sources of Information

I felt compelled to review important Information Literacy skills lessons for our year 10 students. My session with the class on Sources of Information, Citations and Referencing had its ups and downs. It left me asking more questions about my role in general and ways I can specifically bridge gaps in research instruction and guidance. These are stuff that one brain couldn't answer in one sitting. But, working with a team can lead to solutions.

Nonetheless, I sent out some suggestions to my co-teachers on how we all can help students think appropriately of the sources they can use in academic work (and hopefully, in real life functions).

Here's a suggestion that may help strengthen students' skills in identifying sources of information for research and investigation tasks. Instead of saying or instructing students to "use a variety of sources" or "use appropriate sources" try phrasing it this way:

- look for an article in an academic journal that tells you...
- find an article in a magazine or a periodical that identifies/differentiates/presents/explains...
- a first hand account of one's experiences during Martial Law by conducting an interview, reading a journal/memoir/diary entries
- a website from a Pathfinder/Libguides/Online Directories of organizations, agencies, institutions
- a chapter or chapters on skepticism in a Philo book/ebook...
- a model, realia, map, infographic that shows part-whole relationship or systems and structures
- a case study or an experiment in a scientific journal/article

This way, we are implicitly teaching students that primary and secondary sources have their specific use depending on the tasks and questions given to them. Some students may figure this out easily, but there are students who will depend on Google and the most popular result it sends back. This technique may also help students who are new at research and inquiry tasks.

Another way of setting directions is to refer students to use online databases and search engines that are less commercial and are validated by experts in the field for their content and reliability. For example:

- look for a variety of appropriate resources using: 
          the BA Library's OPAC
          Google Scholar
          WorldBook Online
          The Day
As of writing, one of my co-teachers tried the first suggestion for his class in World History last week. I still have to gather feedback. So, this kind of work never really ends.

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