Findings about Student Research Habits

22 08 2011

There is a great article in today’s Inside Higher Ed by Steve Kolowich, “What Students Don’t Know,” that looks at some of the findings from the ERIAL Project, which used ethnographic research methods to understand the ways student thought about and did research at a handful of academic libraries in Illinois.

While you’re at the Inside Higher Ed site, definitely take a look at librarian Barbara Fister’s blog post from August 17, “Sources of Confusion,” which parses the findings of the Citation Project in which student papers were analyzed by a pair of composition instructors. Her post features a good comments thread, including one gem from William Badke. The post spotlights a fantastic interview with the researchers from the Citation Project in which it is argued that students should be working closely with sources rather than just mining them for quotes to use use in patchwriting. If they were actually reading the sources fully and understanding them, they wouldn’t be patchwriting and would offer more summaries of the sources they are using. Instead students just harvest a few useful quotes, and stich them into their papers with little understanding of the larger significance of their sources. The researchers suggest that when students are actually deeply engaged with their sources, they are less likely to plagiarize on purpose.


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