Searching for answers

I taught a class at MPOW yesterday, dealing with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and its ramifications and then moving on to reference and research.  (We packed a lot of information into 50 minutes.)  The students were tasked with finding two articles on HIPAA and citing those sources in their report.

At the beginning of the semester – two whole weeks ago – I met with the students and showed them how to request a book, how to find an article, and how to communicate with me.  They’re passingly familiar with the library and what it offers.  This would have been a great opportunity for them to dive into the plethora of databases we have available and see what articles discuss HIPAA.  (I’m guessing there’s a zillion of them.)

Any guesses as to how many students ventured into the library databases?  Anyone?

None.

All of them used Google, found a few good resources, and called it good.

The assignment I gave them requires them to find five articles and store them on RefWorks, which will force them to use the library databases.  I’m hoping that once they discover the wealth of research available to them, they’ll think to start their research there.

It’s frustrating to know that we have an enormous store of information available, only to find that no one is bothering to make use of it.  Part of it is the problem of usability; Google is an easy interface.  We’ve discussed this ad nauseum and there are some that are chipping away at the problem, but there are still databases out there that are notoriously unfriendly.

The question is this: how to convince new students to make Google their last resort, rather than their first choice?

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