Feeling Students’ Research Anxiety

Did you know that when students were asked to associate one word with the way they feel when assigned a research project the responses included angst, tired, dread, fear, anxious, annoyed, stressed, disgusted, intrigued, excited, confused, and overwhelmed? That’s according to a new report titled “What Today’s College Students Say about Conducting Research in the Digital Age.” The report comes from an organization called Project Information Literacy. They conducted focus groups and one-on-one interviews with students to find out what it is like to be a college student these days. Their major finding is this: Research seems to be far more difficult to conduct in the digital age than it did in previous times.

Perhaps that is not completely unexpected. But this finding and many of the other insights in this valuable report can help those who assign research papers and projects to better understand the feelings and experiences of today’s student as he or she navigates their way through the electronic information landscape. For example, students report their growing dependence on Wikipedia because it provides them with the context they need to begin a research project; many students report not knowing where to begin their research. This is where the librarians at the Temple University Libraries can help.

They are experts on not only how to begin a research project, but how to acquire the necessary information and skills to finish it as well. They can help students to identify the appropriate resources, to select good research terminology, to structure a working search strategy and even how to capture and organize the content. That’s why librarians are now engaged in meeting every section of English 0802 (Analytical Reading & Writing) for two sessions in every semester. This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to conduct research in the digital age without the anxiety. Librarians are also available to developed customized research instruction sessions for any course – and many Temple faculty already take advantage of this. If you would like to do more to reduce your students’ research anxiety – to reduce their dependence on Wikipedia – and to start seeing better research papers – contact your department’s liaison librarian or contact Steven Bell for more information.

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