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Online Learning Support: How to Access Library Resources: Assignment Ideas

Critical Internet Searching

This activity can help spark the difference between academic and popular research resources.  Have students search on a concept relevant to the course material in Wikipedia and Google or DuckDuckGo.  Then, have them do the same searches in Gale Ebooks and the UW Libraries Search.  Have students post their compare & contrast analysis to Canvas.

Question prompts could include:

  • What kind of information do you get from each of these sources?  How easy is it to tell where the information came from, who is saying it, and why you should believe them?
  • Do you trust what you learn from each of these sources?  Why or why not?
  • Based on your searching and prior knowledge, what do you think are the main differences in how Google responds to a search query and how the UW Libraries Search does?

Formulating a Research Topic or Question

Have students watch this ‘concept mapping’ video and then create their own concept map. They can scan or take a picture of their map and post it to Canvas. Have students comment on each other’s maps to ask questions and/or offer additional ideas.

Search Strategies

If students are at the point of needing to start research for an assignment, have them watch this Boolean Tutorial or read this Tutorial Page.  Then, have them construct their own searches using Boolean and try the searches out in the UW Libraries Sea or a database.  Have students post their Boolean searches in Canvas, listing the details of a couple of books or articles they found, how the sources relate to their research topic/question, and how the sources inform their thinking.

Finding full-text scholarly articles in my subject

Finding Journal Articles

If students need to begin finding journal articles for their research they can use this Academic Search Complete tutorial.  Have students post their findings to Canvas including citation information, brief annotations and, descriptions of how the source(s) relates to their research topic/question along with some thoughts on how the source contributes to their path of inquiry.
Students can access Academic Search Complete from the right side of the Databases A-Z page, or they can find other discipline-specific databases in our Research Guides.

How do I know if my articles are scholarly (peer-reviewed)?

Evaluating Sources

Provide students with a source or have them find one to evaluate using these Evaluating Sources Criteria.  Have students post their source and responses to Canvas.  An alternative would be to provide students with two sources – one academic and one popular – and complete the same exercise but also have them do some comparing and contrasting of the two considering the evaluation criteria.

Analyzing Images

Have students find two images relevant to the course content, using the Internet or databases listed in the Library’s image guide, Image Databases & Resources (search tips for finding images are available in the guide).  Ask students to read the visual literacy resources linked from the Evaluating Images page and use the guiding questions on the page to analyze and evaluate the images they have chosen.  Students can post their images and evaluations to Canvas.  Have students cite their images according to the guidelines on the image guide Citing & Copyright page.

Media Literacy

Ask students to find two news articles on a course theme, one in the New York Times (or another “mainstream” news source), and one from the Library’s Ethnic NewsWatch database or Alt-PressWatch database.   Have students post their findings and analysis on Canvas.

Questions prompts could include:

  • What bias(es) does the article contain?  Does the story (seem to) support one or more point of view?  What can you tell from the author’s background, or the type of news the publication generally puts out?  How would you explore this further?
  • Who are the major players or stakeholders?  What different (and presumably conflicting) interests do they represent?
  • What else would you like to know that the article doesn’t tell you?  What sources would you go to in order to find answers to these questions? What (re)search strategy would you follow?

Primary / Archival Research

Ask students to find two primary/archival sources in one of the Library’s many historical databases or a web archive
Ask students to post their findings and analysis to Canvas.

Question prompts could include:

  • Who is (are) the “author(s)” of your primary source?  Where and how was it produced, published, and/or archived?  What do you know about that site and why the source seemed significant there?  (Think about the source’s and/or the site’s intended audience.)
  • Close-read your primary source.  Begin with the details, the things that catch your attention.  List those details.  How would you pull those details together in order to “read” the source?  What remains unclear?  What further questions do you want to ask about and of the source?
  • Or, assign one of these primary source worksheets from the National Archives
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