Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Note 4: Student Research Strategies

By now I have met with most of you face-to-face; I am continuously delighted by your desire to become more thoughtful instructors. My alma mater’s motto is meliora – ever better – and I see that philosophy at work in your pedagogy.

Now that we are past midpoint in the semester, many of you are thinking about how you can help your students synthesize the new ideas you and your course have been presenting. (Alternatively, if you are planning an upcoming course, you may be panicking that the next semester is close at hand.)  No matter where you are in this process, I know that many of us assign some sort of writing as one method of learning.  Yet it can be frustrating for student and professor alike when the paper – essay, research paper, analysis – is reduced to a formulaic endeavor rather than a method to develop one’s thinking.  The attached research from the University of Washington, How College Students Seek Information in the Digital Age (Head & Eisenberg, 2009) is practical and illuminating. The authors found that, “students conceptualize research, especially tasks associated with seeking information, as a competency learned by rote, rather than as an opportunity to learn, develop, or expand upon an information-gathering strategy which leverages the wide range of resources available to them in the digital age.”

Knowing how many students think about information-seeking may help you address this issue with them more effectively, which in turn may result in better written work.  Now that would be a gift for the end of the semester.

I hope you find the article useful.  I’ll be scheduling a lunchtime workshop for us very soon, but meanwhile, do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions.

With warm regards,
Nancy

Nancy S. Niemi, Ph.D.
Director, Faculty Teaching Initiatives

Supplementary Materials and Resources

Contact Information 

Contact Dr. Niemi via email Nancy.Niemi@yale.edu or phone 203.432.8644 with thoughts about the collection and/or to receive these notes in your inbox.

Topics 

research, information