Conducting Research for an Exploratory Essay

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Name: Julie O'Keeffe
Title: Instruction Librarian
Institution: Marquette University
Street Address: Memorial Library, Marquette University, P.O. Box 3141
City/State/Zip: Milwaukee, WI 53201
Phone: 414-288-5996
Fax: 414-288-5324

Title of practice or implementation method: Conducting Research for an Exploratory Essay

Primary audience: Freshman English Students

Describe the practice:

This workshop/session was designed with the Coordinator for the First Year Writing Program, Virginia Chappell, in the English department. We published an article in "ACE Journal" (Assembly on Computers in English, published by the National Council of Teachers of English), v1 n3 (August 1998) regarding our collaboratively-designed program.

This spring workshop is optional for students. If TA's choose to sign up their section of students, then the entire section of 20 students attends during regular class time. The session was conducted 48 times in the spring of 1999, reaching 960 of the 1600 freshmen.

A 30-minute PowerPoint presentation is shown to students and they then have 20 minutes of hands-on practice time in our computer classroom.

Special emphasis is placed on:
1) determining perspective and intent of the source's creator
2) determining relevancy and usefulness of material
3) "self-assessing the information-seeking processes" (to borrow your committee's language)--indeed the main point of the assignment
4) discovering that one's own understanding of an issue may evolve when wrestling with a complex issue
5) learning to cite web sources correctly in a "works cited" page
6) learning to use quotes and show attribution correctly in the body of a paper.

The above concepts are demonstrated by modeling one mock student's research process throughout the presentation.

Competencies addressed through this practice:
1. Identify and articulate needs which require information solutions.
2. Identify and select appropriate information sources.
3. Formulate and efficiently execute search queries appropriate for the information resource.
4. Interpret and analyze search results and select relevant sources.
5. Locate and retrieve relevant sources in a variety of formats from the global information environment.
6. Critically evaluate the information retrieved.
7. Organize, synthesize, integrate and apply the information.
8. Self-assess the information-seeking processes used.

Supporting materials/resources used and their format: none

Special requirements to use these resources: no

References consulted: none