How to Help Students Select Digital Tools and Resources

Library Resources | March 06, 2018

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Students are heading straight to the Internet to conduct academic research for school assignments. Here are some tips to help explain why the digital research tools in your library may be more effective.

When students need to do research for a school assignment search engines are familiar and easy to access, so they usually head there first. This may be the quickest way to find the closest Starbucks, but is not always the most effective way to find dependable information from trusted sources for educational purposes. Many curriculum standards and frameworks require students to learn how to search and identify reliable digital sources. User research shows us that students are often basic researchers. They have very minimalistic skills and get frustrated easily. Here are some key points to help explain to students why they should be cautious about using web sites found through search engines to conduct academic research:    

  • Professionals don’t share information in an uncontrolled environment where anybody can post or comment.
  • There are no standards for information found online. It could be written by anyone. How do you rate someone’s expertise online?
  • The content may not be checked for accuracy or could be intentionally posted as fake news.
  • General sites may contain biased information or click bait designed to lead to a paid site.
  • The website might not be updated meaning the details may be outdated.

Here are some characteristics your students should look for when evaluating digital research tools:

  • Content affiliated with a student’s library or institution
  • A reputable publisher’s name
  • Author name and his/her title, institution or skill level (indexes and abstracts)
  • Well-organized text that supports student research needs
  • Article or resource date

EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS) improves usage of the valuable resources libraries provide. With EDS researchers can access digital content from school or home. Print items and digital collections can be discovered with one search box and one list of results. Google Education integration options are available.

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