Libraries Partner with Teaching and Learning Center to Provide Tips on Improving Student Research

Next Wednesday, October 5, faculty are invited join the Libraries and the Teaching and Learning Center for a workshop on improving student research. Though today’s students may be tech savvy, that doesn’t mean they’re research-savvy. Many undergraduates have a very vague idea as to what academic research is and how to do it. Based on findings from Project Information Literacy, an ongoing national research project focused on student research practices, Temple librarians have identified practical steps you can take to ensure that your students produce high-quality research assignments. Please register for this program through the TLC. Date: Wednesday, October 5 Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Location: TECH 112, TLC Seminar Room Facilitator: Thomas Heverin, Science Librarian; Susan LaValley, Education Services Librarian Audience: Faculty

Fair Use – Separating the Myth From the Reality

In this useful advice column published at Inside Higher Ed, well-known copyright expert Patricia Aufderheide shares her seven Myths About Fair Use. This is helpful to all faculty who use copyrighted materials in their teaching, and have uncertainties about when fair use applies to their incorporation or distribution of copyrighted works. Temple University’s academic librarians can also help when there are questions or concerns about copyright and fair use. We both understand the copyright law, and have mechanisims to help faculty avoid violating copyright. We are here to help, so get it touch with us. Start by contacting your departmental library liaison.

Refworks 2.0 launched today

Refworks is the citation management program that the Temple University Libraries offers to the university community that makes it easier to store, organize, annotate, and output citations as bibliographies. On Monday, August 23, the Libraries’ switched over to the new Refworks 2.0 interface, which provides a more intuitive and efficient user experience. Anyone familiar with the first version of Refworks (now called Refworks Classic) should be able to make this transition with relative ease. (The Refworks Classic interface will be available until December simply by clicking on the “Refworks Classic” link in the upper right corner of the Refworks 2.0 interface.) As before, users can access Refworks 2.0 from the Libraries’ homepage under “Find Articles.”

Here are some of the improvements in Refworks 2.0:

  • Shortcuts that allow quick access to important features
  • Reduced menu bar that includes only the most important items
  • Tabs for quick access to (all) References, Folders, and shared folders

In Refworks 2.0 you don’t need to constantly shift from one page to another to perform simple functions, as was often necessary in Refworks Classic. The same great features are now easier to find and use. Take a spin on Refworks 2.0!

Here’s a Refworks 2.0 preview.

Temple Selected to Participate in Project Information Literacy Study

Temple is honored to have been selected to participate in the University of Washington’s Project Information Literacy program! This week, a survey will be deployed to a random sampling of sophomores, juniors and seniors, seeking information on what it’s like to be a college student in the digital age. If you are selected, we encourage you to participate, and not just because you will be eligible for a $150 gift certificate from Amazon! PIL is a national study about information-seeking behaviors, competencies, and the challenges. The survey will help us learn more about the opportunities and challenges that online research presents to you — and the strategies you’ve developed to find information for course work and for use in your life. This information will help the Temple Libraries to better serve you. Watch your email for the survey announcement. Just be sure to complete the survey by the April 28, 2010 deadline.

Should Students Form Their Own Course Work Groups?

The following research summary comes courtesy of the publication The Teaching Professor. The Temple University Libraries has acquired a site license so that any instructor can access this always helpful resource for finding solutions to teaching challenges. We also have access to the entire archive of issues so that instructors can search for past articles on a multitude of teaching issues and tips. This link will lead you to the latest issue. Instructors can subscribe to receive an email alert for each new issue.

Now, on to the summary: If the course involves a graded group project, should instructors let students form their own groups or should the instructor create the groups? This decision is not always easy or obvious. Some students lobby hard to form their own groups, arguing that knowing each other ensures that they will be able to work together productively. On the other hand, in the world of work, most of the time employees do not get to pick their collaborators. There’s a task, and those with knowledge and relevant skills are formed into a group and assigned to complete the project, solve the problem, or develop the product.

The qualitative data revealed one significant but predictable difference between the groups. Self-selected groups got off to a much quicker start on the project. Members already knew each other and could start to work immediately. In the instructor-formed groups, there was a period of getting to know one another before they could work productively on the task. The qualitative data uncovered another less obvious difference. Self-selected groups valued their similarities. What they shared from previous interactions helped them work together and made it less likely that any individual would let the group down. Students in the instructor-formed groups valued their differences. They saw each other as making different contributions to the group and felt that these differences enabled the group to produce a better product.

Interestingly, “although student-selected groups perceived they produced higher-quality work, the actual grades assigned to the group projects did not differ between group formation conditions.” (p. 26) Despite this, these faculty researchers stop short of recommending that faculty always let students form their own groups. “Although we found that student-selected groups generally had a more positive experience than instructor-formed groups, we resist the temptation to conclude that student-selection is the superior method for forming groups. Read more at:

Preventive Education Reduces Plagiarism

According to a new research study, exposing students to an educational tutorial about what constitutes plagiarism and how to prevent it is an effective mechanism for reducing student plagiarism. The study divided hundreds of students into two groups. he first group of students received no special instructions or information about plagiarism. Students in other randomly selected courses, however, were required to take a short online tutorial on plagiarism and were required to complete the exercise before they could hand in any papers. The results indicated that the students who were exposed to the online tutorial showed significant improvement in reducing the occurrence of plagiarism, especially among students with low SAT scores who typically are most likely to plagiarize.

These findings suggest that faculty concerned about student plagiarism should consider preventive educational approaches over enforcement approaches (e.g., using detection software to catch plagiarizers). While enforcement approaches may be effective at catching or detecting plagiarizers, they do little to attack the root causes of plagiarism. One of the challenges for students is not realizing they have access to tools that can help them to avoid plagiariasm and that can help them create and gather proper citations. Temple University librarians have expertise with tools such as RefWorks, a personal bibliographic software that is free to all Temple faculty and students, that can help students to better manage the citations they collect for their research project – and assist in integrating those citations into a research paper. Librarians can also show faculty the many research databases that enable students to create citations while doing their research. Consult our list of subject specialists to contact the librarian that serves your department.