Teaching students to identify appropriate sources for research papers includes teaching them the difference between scholarly and popular sources. It is tempting to tell students the difference between the two, but a more effective method is to show them a scholarly and a popular source about the same topic and have them identify the differences. Having students generate the differences gets students more actively engaged and leads to better understanding and longer-lasting learning.
S.O.S. for Information Literacy provides ideas for teaching a wide number of different information literacy topics. The lesson plan “But Is It Scholarly?” describes one way of teaching students how to distinguish scholarly from popular articles. It also includes suggestions of pairs of articles you can use in your own course.
If you have suggestions for other pairs of articles, please post a comment and provide the citation information for the two articles.
If you are teaching an Information Literacy course, you need to provide students with explicit instruction in information literacy. One way of providing explicit instruction is to have students complete an online tutorial. I found several such tutorials described on MERLOT, the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching.
Here are several tutorials that received favorable peer reviews on MERLOT for you to consider:
Info Research 101: Surviving Your Essay: This tutorial teaches students how to define a topic, choose sources, use search tools, figure out if they have found enough information about their topic, and go through the process of writing the paper. Read the review of this tutorial on MERLOT.
The VAIL Tutor (Virtual Academic Integrity Laboratory): This tutorial teaches students about plagiarism, avoiding plagiarism, and citing sources. At the end of the tutorial, students are given a quiz. Students who successfully complete the quiz receive a certificate of completion. Read the review of this tutorial on MERLOT. This site won a MERLOT Classics award in 2011.
Scholarly vs. Popular Periodicals: This video teaches students how to distinguish between a scholarly journals and magazines. Read the MERLOT review of the tutorial. This site won a MERLOT Classics award in 2009.
The Information Literacy Game: This online board game can be played by 1 to 4 people, and the results can be e-mailed to up to 5 addresses. Read the MERLOT review of the tutorial.