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Instructional Inspirations: Issue #5 March 2010

This guide identifies a variety of activities, online tools, web 2.0 technologies and videos to enhance information literacy instruction.

March 2010

Quick Think - Pair - Share Exercise
Nikol Price and Jennifer Wong, EMCC

How often do you get asked to do a library instruction session when the students are writing a research paper and they are allowed to write on any subject in the universe? This happens all the time to us in ENG 102 classes.

Since the students' topics are so varied, it is difficult to keep them all engaged as we do sample searches and explain the importance of appropriate search terms. To increase engagement, we developed a simple exercise based on Think - Pair - Share. We created a handout that we print and cut into half size sheets. The handout asks students to write their name and topic at the top. Underneath there are 5 spaces to brainstorm search terms that they might use in the databases to find information on their topics. We give the students 3-5 minutes to complete this portion of the exercise. Then we ask students to trade their papers with a neighbor. The neighbor then has to look at the topic and come up with five additional search terms that the person might use.

This exercise is usually fun for the students, especially when they are brainstorming search terms for someone else's topic. After the brainstorming is done, we collect the sheets and then use them to do sample searches and suggest additional search terms. Students get their original sheets back at the end of class so that they can use them while doing research. For the handout to accompany this activity, please see the file below "Handout for Think-Pair-Share Activity".

Simulation to Teach Keyword Searching
Danielle Carlock, SCC
I use a simulation activity to teach students several important concepts about keyword searching. First a sample topic is introduced and we discuss how to determine the keywords/search terms from the topic. Next the use of AND is introduced and we create a simple search statement using it. Students are then given a set of preselected abstracts and have to determine which would be retrieved during the search.  Some of the abstracts are relevant, but they would not be retrieved using the keywords we choose. This helps show students the need to incorporate synonyms into a search. Next we build a more comprehensive search statement using synonyms, and students look at the abstracts to see which would be retrieved this time. Finally we look again at the abstracts to determine which are relevant (I purposely included some false hits that include the search terms but are completely irrelevant).  This drives home to students some of the shortcomings about keyword searching. We talk about using the subject headings suggested in the database or limiting the search to titles in order to overcome this problem.

For the handouts to accompany the exercise, please see the files below: Powerpoint, Abstracts, and Answer Key to accompany Keyword Searching Simulation.

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