Initial Publication Date: October 19, 2017

Include Information Literacy and Critical Evaluation of Sources

Critical evaluation of sources and proper scholarship are critical in science. Building these skills is something students need to practice and receive feedback on, just like anything else an instructor wants them to master.

Information Literacy

Provide an instructional sheet on what the institution's library has to offer and how to use it. Many students are not aware of all the resources that are available to them and are intimidated by trying to use it. Particularly important for online students is how to access all of these resources from their remote location.

Develop a scaffolded set of activities to help students practice assessing the quality of information sources. Such a series might start with a list of specific sources that students are allowed to use to establish a set of exemplars. From specific sources, the scope could be broadened to include academic library databases. Broadening again to include sources such as Google Scholar or ResearchGate will test students' abilities at a new level. Having a specific librarian for students to contact for help in accessing resources or assessing the credibility of resources the students have already identified can help the students learn good scholarship and research skills. Using these new skills, the faculty member could then facilitate a discussion activity where students explore pseudoscience articles and research the origins of such misinformation.

Anthony Santorelli, Anne Arundel Community College

"There is also a discussion at the beginning of the semester in which students introduce themselves to our embedded librarian. This allows the students and the librarian to establish a relationship in which the librarian can help students with library resources, research and citation, especially with writing assignments. In addition, we also have a dynamic front page of our course website that we update every week based upon the topic being covered. "

Require the Use of Proper Citation

Using citations in scientific writing is often a challenge for students. They need repeated practice and guidance to get it right. Provide a detailed tutorial on citation methods with video if possible, as this really assists students more than just providing a link for them to a website or to a document with instructions. Specify which citation format they should use for the class. Require a minimum number of proper citations in writing assignments. Provide examples of poor/no use of citation and good use of citations in a paper for students. Include the proper citation in the grading rubric for assignments.

Resources for Citation:

Work with library staff to design assignments and prepare materials on plagiarism and research techniques. There will be students who have little experience wrestling with issues of copyright and plagiarism, so having a librarian they can ask for guidance can be a valuable resource. They can also point students to additional information sources on these issues to help students develop their skills. Connections to the library staff can help students build skill in information literacy as well. Mitigate the Risk of Cheating »

Anthony Santorelli, Anne Arundel Community College
"I think having smaller discussion assignments that require research and citation being given a couple of times during a course instead of a large term paper at the end of a course can help students in learning proper research and citation techniques, cut down on possibilities of plagiarism, and alleviate large batches of grading by faculty while breaking up the work into smaller segments for students."