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Look at the treatment of a topic over a period of time
This can build students' awareness of the process of scholarship on a
topic -- what do researchers now know that they didn't know before, how might
the social context of research have had impact on a topic, etc. It can work for
time spans as limited as two years and as wide as a century. It may also
heighten awareness that it is not enough to search the last six months in a
Review a major journal in the field
over time Students develop a sense of a
discipline as an evolving entity by tracing shifts in who is published, what
topics are considered of interest, what methodology is used.
Compare items retrieved by searches
using two different search engines or databases Students learn
that indexes, databases and even search engines may have different focus and
functions. This helps them learn to make deliberate choices about which finding
tool to locate information in various fields, at differing levels, or in
differing formats. Searching a general database such as Academic Search
Complete and the standard indexing tool
within your discipline might yield some interesting results. (Is the general
database useful for an interdisciplinary approach? Are its articles more
accessible? Does the specialized index do better for narrow searches?)
Compare the treatment of the same
topic in two different disciplines This helps students to
practice physically locating material and it teaches them to learn to identify
the perspectives and approaches of different disciplines.
Locate two scholarly articles on a
topic, and compare and evaluate their bibliographies Students observe
both common and unique sources across the articles, and think about the impact
the quality of sources can have on the authority of the article.
Locate and compare two contemporary
accounts of an event Heightens
awareness of difference in perspective between the immediacy and detail of the
contemporary account and the treatment of the event by later scholars. Students
are often intrigued with old newspapers and magazines, and finding a topic,
then using an index to find another article, helps them understand the use of
Locate and evaluate the “best” and
the “worst” web site on a topic, describing the criteria used and recommending
improvements for the "worst" site. Students use
search engines to locate web sites, and must develop criteria for judging the
pertinence and reliability of the information found.
Create a profile of a species, or of
a chemical compound found in a household product Familiarizes students with the
common scientific reference tools, and can introduce them to scientific
Write a newspaper article about an event The entire class can research
an event, with each individual writing a news story on it. In addition to
encouraging students to identify important elements and to summarize, the
differences among the stories may alert students to the impact a writer's
perspective has on writing.