Tag Archives: research

Day 11 or Beyond Wikipedia

10 Dec
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Monash University Caulfield Library – Brutalist Tower (Stairs really)

Reading: Why first-year college students select online research resources as their favorite by James P. Purdy, First Monday, Volume 17, Number 9 – 3 September 2012

You can read the full article here: http://www.firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/4088/3289

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-Wikipedia, I use it all the time. It is really useful when you are looking for a quick definition or as a springboard to additional sources of information beyond Wikipedia. However, during my course I would have never used it as a source for a reference (no matter how relevant) in an assignment. I would have felt ashamed. Definitely, not the done thing. Also, I have never attempted to edit/improve Wikipedia, although it might be fun to try. Wikipedia admits it needs help, and has a WikiProject dedicated to adding references to over 230,000(!) unreferenced articles.

Apparently, I am not the only one reluctant to reference Wikipedia, this was contrary to my expectations. The Purdy article reports on the results of a questionnaire that asked over 500 American first year university students,

“which research resources they used and why certain online research resources were their favorite. The study found that students most frequently reported favoring resources for reasons of ease, quality, and connectivity. These results present a more complex picture of student motivation than popular accounts of NextGen college students as disinterested, lazy, and ignorant” (2012). In other words, using Wikipedia.

Purdy argues that many of the students surveyed valued scholarly sources above relevant ones, regarding the scholarly classification of the information as more important than the content. The article argues that students need to be more discriminating when using scholarly databases or journals. Students are having difficulty discerning that a scholarly source appropriate for one assignment may not be suitable for another. For instance, “a source returned by Google Scholar may work well for non–academic research into side effects of a medical procedure. Yet it may be inappropriate for an academic essay on that procedure, despite it being scholarly ” (2012). The study surmises that students may be over reliant on how “teachers, librarians, database providers, or others designate scholarliness” (2012). And I thought librarians could do no wrong.

The article concludes that students could learn and benefit from conducting their own primary research in order to better understand the practices involved in academic research. We can all benefit from learning how to evaluate the “expert information” that is used to shape the governmental policies, and legislative decisions that affect us.

Thankfully we have The Conversation in Australia taking a part in providing this education.

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The Smith Family – Economic and Digital Divides

6 Nov

Click to find out more

The Smith Family, improving childhood literacy in educationally disadvantaged homes. Yes, here in Australia.

“The Smith Family is a national, independent children’s charity helping disadvantaged Australians to get the most out of their education, so they can create better futures for themselves.”

More than 605,000 children are living in disadvantage (Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011) Labour Force Australia:Labour force status and other characteristics of families) and are unable to equally access the same educational, or life opportunities that many of us take for granted.  When children are left out, they get left behind and without support, the disadvantage they experience today is likely to continue into adulthood – and on to the next generation.

Research has shown, supporting a child’s education is one of the most effective ways of breaking the cycle of disadvantage and ensuring they can access the same learning opportunities as their peers.

The Smith Family – Lets Read

The  Smith Family – Digital Literacy

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