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Instructor's Companion to Research Now! — Get Started

Strategies for Implementing the UConn Library's Online Modules

Getting Started

The Get Started guide is focused around helping students get started on a research project.

We know from research that one of the hardest things for students to do is get started on a project. The more support for research we can give students throughout the course, and the more opportunities we give them to be accountable for their research, the better. 

Undergraduates "considered themselves to at a great disadvantage when asked to apply some of the higher-order thinking skills for information seeking and research, especially starting, defining, and narrowing a research inquiry so it framed their entire research process." (Emphasis added).

Project Information Literacy reports that, in their nation-wide study, "less than a third of graduates [...] reported that college had helped them develop the critical thinking skill of framing and asking their own question."  Project Information Literacy also found that employers report that graduates have trouble framing and asking their own questions.

We all know that students are good at looking for answers (and trying to find the "right answer). How do you encourage and support students to ask their own questions and find their own answers?

A quick tip to get students started - students might need a few suggestions on how they might get started. Referring students to a librarian is one of the best ways to get students to take advantage of library assistance.

What is Research?

  • How do you communicate research to your students?
    • Is research primarily about finding information?
    • Is library research primarily about finding information?

Possible classroom discussions:

  • What does research look like in this class?
  • How does my discipline approach a question?
  • How does the practice of in this class research help develop inquiry in and out of class?
  • What do "answers" look like in this class? In this discipline? Are students looking for information to find the "right" answer, or to develop an answer of their own?

Library Resources:

  • Why do you want your students to know about using resources through the library?
  • Why does your discipline find peer-reviewed or scholarly articles important? 

Adapted from Project Info Lit:

"We identified the following trend from our analysis: Few [teachers] explained what research entails as a critical process of inquiry. Why were students being asked to engage in a pedagogical research exercise in a certain course in the first place?

[...] A humanities instructor put the research process into a larger context:

'Research is meant to probe questions which interest us, to carefully study the ideas and record from those who have written before us, and add to the world’s knowledge pool.Think of it as detective work, work which draws definite conclusions about a question based on already existing evidence.'

[...] Few [teachers] peeled back the layers of the knowledge production process and what it meant in the academic environment, in a given discipline, in a given class, for a given group of students, who were enrolled and most likely, hoping to perform well.

We contend that students need to understand the whys of the research processes before they can even begin to practice them and gain traction with their information problem skills from one class to the next. "

Process-Based Approach

Do your students have time & structure to learn about research as an iterative process, with many dead ends? Or do they find out too late they are locked in to a topic that is insufficient to their needs?

How can we introduce students to flexibility and creativity in research?

Students need time and opportunities to reflect on the information they are finding. They need the opportunity to work through how information sources fit together, and to make meaning from those sources. This encourages student interaction with sources

How can we accomplish this?

  • Create opportunities for metacognition
  • Encourage students to follow their interests
  • Encourage student questioning - give students control of the question