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July 3, 2012 / Sarah Ludwig

How we’re teaching research wrong

A repost from ALA TechSource. I like this post of mine, though it was tough to write and I feel like there’s still a lot more to be said on the subject.

I am constantly struggling with the sense that I’m doing a lot of talking for nothing. I painstakingly teach kids how to use a database and they go straight back to Wikipedia as soon as I turn them loose. I show them how to use keywords and operators and they always fall back on their “ask Google a question” method.

I get frustrated. I’ve considered asking their teachers to require the use of databases. But lately I’ve been admitting to myself the deep, dark truth: I’ve got it backwards. I’m forcing students to use tools and search methods that are more cumbersome, more frustrating, and less successful simply because I, the librarian, think it’s the best thing to do. If students are going to spend the rest of their lives searching for information in the easiest, most natural way, I must embrace that.

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