Revolution Lullabye

February 4, 2013

JISC and the British Library, Researchers of Tomorrow

JISC and the British Library. Researchers of Tomorrow: TheResearch Behaviour of Generation Y Doctoral Students.  Report.  28 June 2012.  Print.

JISC, a British thinktank that studies digital technologies, and the British Library conducted a three-year study of the research behaviors of “Generation Y” British doctoral students in order to discover how doctoral students find information, conduct research, and use emerging technologies in their research processes.  The Generation Y students they targetted were born between 1982-1994 and did not grow up using digital technologies (in other words, they are not digital natives.)

The study, which involved three annual surveys of a total of 17,000 doctoral students and a longitudinal study of 60 doctoral students, found that this generation of doctoral students relied less on primary sources and materials when conducting their research and turned most often to e-journals (rather than printed sources) to find information and texts.  Although they have been introduced to different kinds of Web 2.0 and digital technologies that could augment their research process, the study found that most Generation Y doctoral students only adopted technologies that fit into their already-established research habits. These students were often unsure of the validity and the usefulness of open access cites, probably due to uncertainty about the credibility of online publication venues and the suspicion of sharing (or fear of being scooped) in many academic fields.  Finally, the research study found that students don’t find one-size-fits-all research or technology workshops useful for their own research process; the doctoral students in the study noted that a more informal, peer-led, and tailored approach to research strategies would be more effective.

The purpose of the study is to shed light on the research habits of this generation of doctoral students.   The findings, both JISC and the British Library hope, will help librarians and those in higher education better prepare and assist doctoral students for 21st century digital research.

Notable Notes

huge longitudinal study that focuses on students’ research and information-finding habits.

the organization of the report:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Setting the scene
  • Chapter 3: Finding and using research resources
  • Chapter 4: Take-up of technology and applications
  • Chapter 5: Collaborating, sharing, and disseminating research
  • Chapter 6: Institutional services and facilities to support research
  • Chapter 7: Conclusions

surveys tried to determine what are their attitudes toward research and what are the key constraints/drivers to their research process (10)

surveyed students from 72 institutions of higher education.

two key findings: “Only Google commands a similarily important role [the other being e-journals] as an information source across all subject disciplines” and “Generation Y doctoral students seem rarely to be aware of the actual publisher or name of the e-information source, as they rely on their library’s own interface or Google to locate and access resources” (19).

Quotable Quotes

“The study found that Generation Y doctoral students are sophisticated information-seekers and users of complex information sources. They are not dazzled by technology and are acutely aware of critical issues such as authority and authenticity in research and evidence gathering” (5).

“If they cannot get hold of an e-journal article, almost half the Generation Y doctoral students said they will make do with the abstract.  Fewer older students inclined to do this” (6)

“There is widespread lack of understanding and uncertainty about open access and self-archived resources” (6) – are students given enough support and guidance to navigate resources on and off line?

“Of the total survey sample, 30% used Google or Google Scholar as their main source to find the research information they sought.” (23)

“Evidence from the cohort suggested a tendency among doctoral students to download and store much more than they ever read in detail. Many downloaded things or viewed them online and then if they looked interesting they would commonly print them out to read them. Many cohort members commented on how they dislike reading (as opposed to scanning) on screen.” (23)


November 15, 2010

Selfe, Hawisher, and Ericsson, Status and Change

Selfe, Cynthia L., Gail E. Hawisher, and Patricia Ericsson. “Status and Change: The Role of Independent Composition Programs and the Dynamic Nature of Literacy.” .” In A Field of Dreams: Independent Writing Programs and the Future of Composition Studies. Ed. Peggy O’Neill, Angela Crow, and Larry W. Burton. Logan: Utah State UP, 2002. 268-277. Print.

The authors argue that the field, and independent writing programs and departments in particular, need to recognize the shifting nature of literacy and form programs and curriculums that address how technology is changing how we communicate and shifting how rhetoric is practiced. They note that the titles and focus of many of the stand-alone programs hint at a privileging of text-based, alphabetic literacy over other kinds of meaning-making that are so prevalent in the world today. Independent writing programs need to lead the way and  incorporate the “full range of composing strategies into their curricula” (272).

Notes and Quotes

See composition as a verbal, visual, aural, and oral art.

May 31, 2009

Erikson et al, A Web We Can Weave

Erikson, et al. “A Web We Can Weave: Considering Open Source Technologies in Our Classrooms.” Comupters and Composition. (Spring 2009)

This collaborative article, written by Erikson and his graduate studetns, investigates different Web 2.o interfaces and technologies the authors (who took a grad seminar class with Erikson) used in the seminar and also in their teaching. Erikson argues that it’s important for those in composition and rhetoric to become familiar with and be able to use the many Web 2.0 technologies students are using, the technologies that are part of their everyday litearcy activities. Drawing on Selber’s three-part literacy framework, Erikson advocates for more productive, rhetorically literate assignments and classroom teaching practices to make composition more relevant and answerable to the multiliteracy needs of today’s students. The graduate students each wrote a section about a different technology – YackPack, Facebook, GoogleDocs & GoogleGroups, podcasting, and wikis.

Quotable Quotes

“the use of Google and many other tools of the digital age are an integral part of the history of literacy in Western culture; to ignore this fact and to bridge the gap between students as digital natives and faculty as digital immigrants certainly calls the question about which group is truly more ignorant and less literate”

Questions teachers need to ask before adopting a Web 2.0 technology: 

What are my course goals for using this technology?
What goals can this technology help me accomplish?
What do I want my students to do with technology?
What are the ethical questions to consider when implementing any new media technology into the writing classroom?
How can I expect my student population to respond to new media?
Are there issues of access, funding, literacy, time, or space that I need to examine beforehand?

“the constant reminder that these tools were the ones in use by our students, and lest we consider those irrelevant to the concerns of English studies in general and Rhetoric and Composition in particular, we can only turn to the current national election process to see the role of tools like YouTube in the candidate debates, blogs in disseminating political views by pundits and citizens alike, and how can one forget Barack Obama’s early morning text message to his supporters about his Vice Presidential choice. Because these tools are ones in the hands of today’s students, defined as digital natives (Prensky, 2001), they should be ones worthy of functional, critical, and particularly rhetorical literacy education within graduate programs in Rhetoric and Composition, not only to transform the undergraduate writing curriculum but also to change the presumption that all academic discourse is print in nature, particularly in light of concerns by the Modern Language Association (2006) about the crisis in scholarly publishing and the impact on print production processes as well as on the academic reward system for faculty caught within the paradigm shift between the print and the digital.”

Notable Notes

see what the students are using and use that – don’t just rely on Blackboard because it’s safe and easy

great YouTube video by Michael Wesch at Kansas State University

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