I love teaching and watching with the students move through the research process. The goal did not have one set path and allowed them to determine what resource they would use. A few students questioned their path and sought approval of their course of action, but the small groups allowed them to turn to each other rather than us.
From a research and instructional point of view, it was incredible interesting to see the path different groups took to get to the goal. One group searching for a book bypassed the library catalog for WorldCat. A different group struggled to find books under their initial search terms. They went through the process of trying synonyms and then broaden their keywords out. It’s the research process. Another group used a database that we never discussed in class to find an article. They were able to do it successfully though, which is a good sign that they are transferring their skills from one database to another. Seeing student start with general encyclopedias and then move to subject specific ones demonstrates a growing understanding of resources. Every group searching for a website has selected quality sources using evaluation criteria.
Sure there are still a few students unsure, but they are only one or two per class. A student looked totally lost when asked to search for a book. At first I felt frustrated like, “What the heck have you been doing all semester?” But then the student provided an interesting insight into her process, “I always look online for my books first and then see if we have it.” Google book search anyone? In the past I’ve seen students start in Amazon. A discussion of OPAC changes can be saved for another day, but still the observations are useful.
As the student demonstrate their process to the class, although some rush to the end goal of the specific resource, but all are able to example their process and the decisions they made along the way. I’m pleased with the exploration and personalization the activity allows. Each group approaches the goal a little differently, but all reach the goal. The research quest in action.
We’ve got another 4 classes to do the activity week next week so I’ll provide some more analysis and some conclusions then.