Technology Pursuit

Blending Technology Into the Language Arts Classroom

Tag: Google Scholar

Teaching Research Via Google’s “In-Depth Articles” and Google Scholar

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When I walked into Love Library on the UNL Campus back in 1996, I thought I knew how to research.  After all, I was an extemporaneous speaker.  I read Time, Newsweek, and the US News and World Report in my spare time.  Those brick red periodical guides–I knew them better than any student in my high school. (OK, not a huge accomplishment given I graduated with only 20 other students.)

Ready to research my first college paper, I walked into Love Library, expecting to find the periodicals section.  After wandering around for half an hour, I was still unable to find a single magazine rack; however, I did realize that I knew nothing about college research.

(Side note:  Love Library, when I attended in the 1990s, was a ridiculous structure where you literally had to enter one building, climb the staircase to the second floor, where you walked through a “tunnel room [really, a HUGE massive space that held computers, stacks, and librarian desks] into another building, where the English and education sources could all be found–usually in the basement, where I’m sure some people probably got lost and died of dehydration.  To leave–you ascended back up three flights of stairs in that second building, back through the tunnel room, then back down the stairs of the first building.  Obviously a sadistic librarian developed this logistical nightmare.)

Anyway.  I gradually learned how to locate journals.  How to read journals effectively.  How to spend the least amount of money at the photocopier.

With Google, students today have it made.

I demonstrated to my college comp seniors today how to use two sections of Google that they’d never used before.

technology in the classroom   Google Search

The first is the “in-depth articles” section, which can be found at the bottom of search pages if the keywords are fairly basic, such as “death penalty” “vaccinations” or “technology in education.”  These articles are derived from more academic periodicals, such as Forbes, The Economist, The Atlantic, and The New Yorker.  

ipads classroom   Google Scholar

Then we moved onto Google Scholar, so students could practice finding journal articles.  The benefits of Google Scholar, beyond the ability to narrow the search to just journals/patents/case studies, include being able to save sources to “My Library” so you can easily find them later, and PDF links in the right hand margin.  These are usually free, so students can access these without paying for article access or registering through the college library.

It’s a shame, really, that Google and the internet has made college-level research so much easier.  Fewer students will experience the hell joy of Love Library.  Though I didn’t have to spend much time at the campus rec center–with the number of staircases I ran at Love, I didn’t need a Stairmaster.

Prepping for College: Teaching Students to Read Journals

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Today and tomorrow, I’m teaching a very important set of lessons to my college writing seniors:  How to read and research journal articles.

When I entered college nearly twenty years ago, I didn’t have a clue what a journal article was.  I prided myself on being a great reader.  I plowed through the school library’s books.  I scoured Time and Newsweek every week to prep for extemporaneous speaking during speech seasonunnamed-1.

But I hadn’t a clue what a journal article was.  Nor did I know how to read one.  I certainly didn’t know how to search for one on the internet (but that’s partly because I’d only been on the internet once or twice before I started college!)

I’m changing that with my college-prep seniors.  Today I made copies of journal articles (yes, photocopies–I wanted something for them to hold and flip through and get a tangible sense of what a journal article was) and we went through the most common parts of journal articles:

  • Title & authors
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion/Commentary

I also explained different reading strategies to reading a journal article.  Abstracts are beneficial in determining whether the article will be applicable to your research or not.  The introduction and literature review can provide great background information for research.  Methodology and results tend to be data-heavy, and these sections can often be skimmed.  The discussion and commentary should be read closely, as it will summarize the results and discuss the implications.

Reading journal articles  pushes some of my students.  It’s text that’s denser and uses more advanced vocabulary than they’re used to.  So my students worked in groups today, reading the articles and then writing a group summary.

Tomorrow they’ll learn about Google Scholar and do more reading/summarizing on their own.  But after today, they’ll be ready for it.

Most of all, they’ll be more ready for college than I was.

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