A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Monday, April 27, 2009


The impetus for these two lessons were born from our experiences facilitating synchronous bibliographic instruction at the collegiate level. Both Zinnat and I have worked as information assistants at the Rosenthal Library; in addition, we have also worked as high school teachers, so we chose goals and objectives that we felt were the most relevant and most important.

From our experiences, we have noted that one of the largest obstacles that incoming students face is their ignorance of databases, and their overuse of search engines. 17-20 year olds run to Google or Yahoo for all their reference needs, despite the pedigree of their queries. In high school a general knowledge of a topic is acceptable, but once you become a college scholar you are expected to delve into a topic and not subsist on topical knowledge.

The sad reality is that most college freshmen come to their first year of college without a proper foundation in research strategies. As a result, they believe that all their information needs can be satisfied by search engines and condition themselves to utilize the databases sparingly. Colleges spend a great deal of their operating budgets on database subscriptions, so it is in the best interest of academic libraries to condition their students to utilize, engage with, and rely on databases for all their information needs.

We thought having two bibliographic lessons would assist students (or at least surreptitiously condition them) to retain the knowledge they have gained. We thought that having 90 mins for each lesson would be ideal; the lessons we designed don't take 90 mins to "teach", therefore this gives technologically-impaired and late students time to catch up or pursue questions at the end of our sessions. If we designed our lessons for 90 mins and then used all of the 90 mins that would leave zero time for students to clarify misunderstandings.

It was our aim to have students obtain a conceptual understanding of databases so that they can apply that knowledge to use any database that utlizes a controlled vocabulary. This is why we incorporated a discussion of cost benefit analysis in the Introduction of lesson one. We feel that students would be positively motivated to use databases if they realize that access to databases is a service covered by their tuition and fees. Specifically, we ask students to consider if they would pay for a service that they don't use. Even though we are appealing to their pocket books, we are hoping that they will see the benefit of increasing their database usage.

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