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  1. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research: Fixing an Academic Blind Spot Revision of a Presentation Done for Speaker Series: Information 2.0: Knowledge in the Digital Age, Friday, March 19, 2010, LaGuardia Community College (CUNY), Long Island City, NY,and at TWU Faculty Retreat, August 2010 Text and PowerPoint posted at http://www.acts.twu.ca/Library/badke.htm under “Workshops/Conference Presentations”

  2. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Part One: The Challenge of Information Literacy

  3. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations:

  4. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 1. Most students have minimal genuine academic research skills.

  5. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 2. Most students do not develop significantly better research skills by practicing research (the learning by osmosis theory).

  6. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 3. Many faculty are locked into the pessimistic view that student research, while dismal, is the best we can expect.

  7. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 4. Many faculty believe that poor performance in student research is a factor of poor motivation, poor time management and laziness.

  8. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 5. Few faculty believe it is feasible or even possible to train students to become significantly better researchers.

  9. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 6. Most students believe they have adequate to good academic research skills, though any test of those skills will show that they do not.

  10. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 7. Most students have no concept of what better research skills would look like and are resistant to further training.

  11. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 8. Even if it were possible to advance student research skills, most faculty do not have the time within their courses to allow for research training beyond an hour or so per semester.

  12. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 9. Even if it were possible to advance student research skills, many faculty do not believe that such an enterprise is important enough, in contrast to other educational goals, to pursue vigorously.

  13. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Ten Sweeping but True Generalizations: 10. The lack of information handling ability among university students is the biggest blind spot in higher education today.

  14. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Paul Zurkowski Zurkowski, P. G., & National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, Washington, DC National Program for Library and Information Services. (1974). The information service environment relationships and priorities. Related paper no. 5. Retrieved from: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2sql/content_storage_01/0000019b/80/36/a8/87.pdf

  15. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Paul Zurkowski was concerned that the coming information age would produce an information glut without a population that could grapple with it.

  16. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research He wrote: “People trained in the application of information resources to their work can be called information literates. They have learned the techniques and skills for utilizing the wide range of information tools as well as primary sources in molding information solutions to their problems. “The individuals in the remaining portion of the population, while literate in the sense that they can read and write, do not have a measure for the value of information, do not have an ability to mold information to their needs, and realistically must be considered to be information illiterates.”

  17. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Zurkowski estimated that less than 20% of the American population was information literate. Now, 3+ decades later, his estimate is probably still accurate

  18. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research A definition: Information literacy is the ability to define a research problem, determine what sorts of information are required to address it, acquire the required information efficiently and effectively, evaluate that information well, and use it with skill to address the problem at hand.

  19. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research Our solution at ACTS – A required one credit introductory course entitled Research Strategies Taught in several semester long sections either live or online

  20. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  21. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  22. Lessons Learned: 1. Our students, indeed, do not know how to do research. “I spend hours searching when I could be reading or analyzing or writing…I’m still trying to resolve this issue – (I’m too ashamed to tell my professor at ______) -- here I’m in a LIS beginning course training for some aspect of librarianship -- and don’t know how to use the searches efficiently! The tutorials are there on the website, but they are not user-friendly.”- E-mail from a graduate student in a library science program. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  23. Lessons Learned: • 1. Our students, indeed, do not know how to do research. • students who don’t know the difference between a citation to a journal article and to a book. • who have no idea how to determine what are the best places to look for information to meet a specific need. • who have access to wonderfully sophisticated research databases, yet treat them like Google, if they use them at all. • who lack the skills to evaluate the information they do find. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  24. Lessons Learned: • 1. Our students, indeed, do not know how to do research. • Mittermeyer and Quirion (2003) surveyed just over 3000 freshman university students. Fewer than 36% of them understood such research foundations as the characteristics of scholarly journals,the difference between library catalogs and bibliographic databases,search terminology constructions to eliminate non-essential words, the use of controlled vocabularies in databases, identification of a journal citation, and issues regarding the ethical use of Internet information. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  25. Lessons Learned: • 1. Our students, indeed, do not know how to do research. • Maughan (2001) presented surveys administered to senior undergraduates at the University of California-Berkeley in 1994, 1995, and 1999 which showed that students consistently over-estimated their research ability, while, of eight discipline-specific groups of students studied, five showed failing scores even on measures of lower order information literacy. His study concluded that “students think they know more about accessing information and conducting library research than they are able to demonstrate when put to the test” (p.83). Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  26. Lessons Learned: • 1. Our students, indeed, do not know how to do research. • Head (2007): “Most students were confused by what college-level research entails.” About 60% of her subjects (all upper level undergraduates) struggled with narrowing topics and making them manageable, while the same percentage admitted being overwhelmed by the number of resources available to them. Interestingly, the greatest frustration was reserved for the perceived lack of guidance from professors regarding the conduct of quality research (supported by an actual lack of helpful instruction in assignment handouts studied). Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  27. Lessons Learned: 1. Our students, indeed, do not know how to do research. Gallacher (2007) reported inadequate research ability among incoming law students in seven institutions and saw little evidence that the research training available to law students was succeeding. His conclusion: “Taken together, the studies present a potentially discouraging picture: while incoming law students are clearly intelligent and capable, and have excelled academically at every previous stage of their education… many incoming students have information literacy deficits that will affect them through their career in law school and on into the practice of law, and that they are unaware that such deficits exist.” (p.32) Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  28. Lessons Learned: • 1. Our students, indeed, do not know how to do research. • Randall, Smith, Clark and Foster (2008) demonstrated the extent of haphazard, confused and inconsistent research methods among students doing doctoral research across a number of disciplines. Other than the mining of existing bibliographies, it appears that none of the subjects had any sophisticated skills in locating information. Few of them were using bibliographic managers to organize their resources, and there seemed to be general air of trial and error in all of their research methods. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  29. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research • Lessons Learned: • 2. The Biggest Blind Spot in Academia Today • the inability of most in academia to see that our students do not know how to handle information, are not learning how to handle information, and are entering the workplace and the information age without the skills to deal with the main tool of modern life – information.

  30. Lessons Learned: • 2. The Biggest Blind Spot in Academia Today • a. The understanding gap. Information Literacy: • Is not remedial • Cannot be instilled with an orientation session or two • Deals with complex understandings and skills related to handling information in a highly technological environment Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  31. Lessons Learned: • 2. The Biggest Blind Spot in Academia Today • b. The administration gap • No room in curriculum • No plans to address the issue Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  32. Lessons Learned: • 2. The Biggest Blind Spot in Academia Today • c. The perpetuated experience (osmosis) gap • Belief that students learn to do research by doing research is incorrect“The expert researcher simply cannot imagine (or refuses to think about) the continuum of problems that undergraduates have in using even a moderately-sized academic library” (Leckie, 1996, p. 206). Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  33. Lessons Learned: • 2. The Biggest Blind Spot in Academia Today • c. Faulty assumptions about students and technology • A large amount of research is showing that technological ability does not translate into information handling/research skills. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  34. Lessons Learned: • 2. The Biggest Blind Spot in Academia Today • d. Faculty culture • Busy - Little time for reflection on how to teach method • Content-oriented • Faculty have intuitive skills that are not readily teachable Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  35. Addressing the Problem: • 1. Models of Information Literacy • One-Shot Remedial“In today’s organization, you have to take responsibility for information because it is your main tool. But most don’t know how to use it. Few are information literate. They can play ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ but not Beethoven.” Peter Drucker* *Harris, T. (1993) The post-capitalist executive: An interview with Peter F. Drucker.” Harvard Business Review, 71(3), 114-122. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  36. Addressing the Problem: • 1. Models of Information Literacy • One-Shot Remedial • Required credit course with each major (e.g. COMM 110 and ACTS required RES 500) Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  37. Addressing the Problem: • 1. Models of Information Literacy • One-Shot Remedial • Required credit course with each major (e.g. COMM 110 and ACTS required RES 500 • Credit requirements embedded in selected courses through the curriculum Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  38. Addressing the Problem: • 2. Challenges of the Electronic Information Age • Nature of “information” has changed Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  39. Addressing the Problem: • 2. Challenges of the Electronic Information Age • Nature of “information” has changed • Tools for information acquisition and use are more complex Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  40. Addressing the Problem: • 2. Challenges of the Electronic Information Age • Nature of “information” has changed • Tools for information acquisition and use are more complex • “Information” has become a cheap commodity Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  41. Addressing the Problem: • 3. The new information era professoremerges • Less a talking knowledge base than a professional methodologist Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  42. Addressing the Problem: • 3. The new information era professor emerges • Less a talking knowledge base than a professional methodologist • Classroom as a lab for “doing” the discipline Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  43. Addressing the Problem: • 3. The new information era professor emerges • Less a talking knowledge base than a professional methodologist • Classroom as a lab for “doing” the discipline • Students actively engaged in their own learning Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  44. Addressing the Problem: 5. Making Information Literacy Foundational The professor is not an information dispensing machine but a skilled navigator of a complex landscape. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  45. Addressing the Problem: 5. Making Information Literacy Foundational I foresee a new world of active learning in which methodology takes centre stage alongside content. In such an environment, information literacy becomes a foundation of learning rather than an adjunct to it. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  46. Addressing the Problem: • 5. Making Information Literacy Foundational • Examples: • Close study of literature reviews in sciences and social sciences, along with active creation of such reviews using research databases. • Evaluation of sets of primary sources in a history project with a view to interpreting them using accepted criteria. • In-class exercises in developing research problem statements in philosophy. • In-class hands-on exegesis projects using pre-selected sources and library databases. • Turning parts of the curriculum over to student group research projects. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  47. Part Two: Disciplinary Thinking for Information Literacy Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  48. In Part One we found that: • A significant percentage of students from undergraduate freshman to doctoral level are lacking the skills and knowledge to handle information well within the research process. • These students do not improve to any great extent simply by doing research. • Higher education is not addressing the problem well with our mostly remedial efforts. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  49. I argued that: We need to make information literacy – the ability to define a research problem, determine what information is needed to address it, find that information efficiently and effectively, and evaluate and use that information well - foundational to education rather than leaving it as a remedial adjunct. Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research

  50. We teach within academic disciplines. Each such discipline has: • A body of knowledge to be learned • A metanarrative (more on this soon) • A methodology Our Students Don’t Know How to do Research