Turnkey course for teaching research fundamentals

Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2023

These days, information seems to be readily accessible. While information sources are plentiful, assessing their relevance and using them properly is another matter entirely. How do you develop that “critical eye” that’s so useful for finding your way through this information maze?  

Our librarians have put together a course on the basic principles of information mastery. This free, open access course can be used by teachers at any postsecondary institution. Designed and offered initially in French, it fills a major void in resources in that language. 

Ann Hemingway and Jennifer Dekker give an overview of the course, titled Compétences informationnelles : principes fondamentaux, available at eCampusOntario.  

What’s the course like?  

The course is simple and flexible in design. It runs for 10 weeks and can be taught entirely online or in hybrid format. The hybrid format helps to promote discussion among students, who can talk about what they’re learning and establish a learning community.  

The various modules can be added to existing courses. For example, professors wishing to teach a specific component can easily incorporate one of the modules into their own course.  

Compétences informationnelles : principes fondamentaux includes interactive components, videos, readings and suggestions for in-person meetings to maximize student success. The files, available in Common Cartridge and HTML formats, can be uploaded into learning management systems such as Brightspace and Moodle, from the eCampusOntario online library.  

A companion handbook is available under a Creative Commons licence through the eCampusOntario online library. It provides access to the bulk of the theoretical content via the Pressbooks application.  

What skills do you need for research? 

The course is based on a program to strengthen students’ information skills in the arts and social sciences. Some of the learning objectives that guided the development of the course include:  

  • The ability to reflect on one’s own interaction with the information universe, and digital information in particular 
  • A clear understanding of the kinds of information needed, and of the differences between the kinds and levels of information 
  • Ethical use of information, including how and when to cite the work of others  
  • A critical look at information in order to, for example, identify inaccurate or misleading information  
  • A mastery of the principles for assessing whether information is credible and authoritative  

Students have grown up with the internet and are very familiar with it as a tool. However, they often come to university with inadequate research skills, since there are so many other facets to university research. Undergraduate students absolutely need to learn these skills. 

Next step 

The next step will obviously be to develop the English-language version of the course. This course, like every other, will evolve over time, and our librarians would very much welcome feedback and suggestions from teachers using it, to improve this first version. 

If you’d like to teach this subject and use one or more of the modules in your course, email Ann Hemngway or email Jennifer Dekker

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