There’s No Wrong Answer, I Say.
I do active learning exercises with my First-Year Undergrads, one of which involves looking at three articles and determining the one most suitable for an academic paper. This evaluation activity is designed to make students think about what they consider good, reliable information.
Usually, the group will choose one of the two peer-reviewed journal articles, instead of the article from a news magazine. They will provide me with a list of criteria that often encompasses a pretty complete range of evaluative considerations, which I’ll write on the board and share with the rest of class.
The other day, I had a group that chose the magazine article. At first, I was intrigued and keen to apply their criteria, but I soon realized (in front of the class) that they hadn’t really put a whole lot of thought into their answer. Basically, they had chosen the article that had the nicest layout and pictures.
I’m not one to tell a group they are wrong, in fact that sort of defies the whole purpose of the activity, but I’ve done this activity so many times without this issue I was unprepared. I tried to rephrase some of their ideas about the author’s background to tie in with author credentials, and I suggested some other criteria, like references and methodologies, etc., but it was really tough.
A quieter student from the group approached me after class and said he understood that they were “wrong”. This also made me a little uncomfortable, because the point isn’t to be right or wrong, but to think about the information you’re using. Anyway, I wonder if there are approaches people take to still allow students to find their own answer, but to be sure you’re getting your message across (which I don’t think I did, in this case).
Bookmarks: Canadiana Discovery Portal
The Canadiana Discovery Portal search is fantastic! This allows you to search and access digital research materials related to Canada’s history across a wide variety of libraries, archives, and museums.
Here’s something I found:
Casse Tête Pointed Head Tecumseh (Parks Canada) http://1812.canadiana.ca/view/oopac.FF7632
Bookmarks: Library and Archives Canada
collectionscanada.gc.ca is where I get most of my fun historic photographs. Their Archives Search allows you to specify what material type you’d like. I almost always choose Photographic Material, but some of the other options can be interesting. Once you’ve done your search, you can limit the results to materials available online. Many of the public domain photos have been digitized. Some of these photos will still have copyright restrictions, but often the copyright will have expired and there will be no restrictions on use. Copyright is definitely something to consider, though.
Unfortunately, recent budget cuts to many government departments, including significant job losses at Library and Archives Canada, will likely have a negative impact on the quality of these collections and services down the road. Check out Save Library and Archives Canada.