The Winding Road - New Paths in Students' Process

One of the interesting results of turning the students loose to demonstrate their research process is exacting that – Their research process. I’m learning a lot more about where they search, how they search and why than I expected. The lesson was created to give the students the freedom to search however they wanted as long as they accomplished the goal. I’m thankful to have this window for observation.

I could be disappointed that not all the students are searching like we’ve instructed them to. But really I’m a realist. I never believed that we were reaching everyone, and how can we. Or even better yet, should we? Should students search like we do? Do they need to? Today two students demonstrating the research process for finding an article came to the same article. One found it through the library website and through our databases (yeah library instruction), and the other did a search in Google, which lead him to “Search for scholarly articles” through Google Scholar, and use the links within Google Scholar to find the full-text article provided by the library (yeah ease of access). Same article, same quality source, same goal. Is one path better than the other – I’m saying no. And we, as educators, should be aware of those paths and be ready to work with them and use them as well.

As a gamer, some of the best experiences I’ve had with games isn’t playing them but watching others play. Sitting and watching someone else work through a particular boss or puzzle can open up new ideas. Watching another player move throughout a game can open up new tricks and paths that I didn’t know about. Today was a good day to sit back and watch. Up until recently I’ve avoided teaching Google Scholar or Windows Live Academic. But after watching students play, oh I mean research, I’m starting to think of new paths.