Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Search Tip for Students - Think Before You Search

One of the bad habits that I see many students fall into when it comes to research is simply entering into Google the first thing that comes to mind. While this strategy can work, it often leads to a lot of time wasted on searches for information that students already have. That’s why whenever I lead a workshop in which we discuss web research strategies I always insist that before students touch the keyboard they make a list of the things they already know about the topic the plan to research.

By creating a list of what they already know before they start to Google things, students accomplish a couple of important things. First, they’re reviewing their current knowledge of a topic (never a bad thing). Second, they’re identifying search terms that could help them in their quest for new information. For example, if my students are researching movie directors from the 1920’s their list of “what I already know” items will include “films” is often used in place of the term “movies.” That little piece of information will help my students alter their search terms when they run into a “dead end” using the term “movie director.”