Three ideas to encourage students to research in digital archives
Yesterday morning I wrote to students about the challenge of using resources such as educational databases and digital archives in their research. This morning I received an email from a reader asking if I could share an example or idea of how to encourage students to use digital archives in their research. Here are three suggestions that came to my mind quickly.
An easy way to encourage the use of educational databases and digital archives is to use these resources. For many students, the only barrier to accessing educational databases and digital archives is the frustration they face when “it doesn’t work like Google.”
One fun and effective way to encourage students to use educational databases and digital archives is to solve search challenges based on the digital archives or educational databases of your choice. There is no better option than Daniel Russell when it comes to creating search challenges. He is the author Looking for happiness And Google’s Senior Research Scientist for search quality and user satisfaction. His book and related blog, Search Research, are full of interesting pictures and examples of using factoids as indicators of research practice challenges. Below is an example of the search challenge I created for students studying local history in Maine.
Hint: Everyone knows that Hannibal Hamilton (Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president) lived on Paris Hill in Minneapolis. What you may not know is that Paris Hill was the home of another person who had previously played a significant role.
There are three parts to your challenge:
- Point out the importance of the airplane in the picture below.
- What is the connection between the plane and Paris Hill?
- Find out what kind of car was driven by the person who represents the relationship between the plane and Paris Hill.
- Make a list of all the people who have flown on this plane or find them.
- Use the resources available on the Mine Memory Network website to identify the car that drives the person representing the relationship between the plane and Paris Hill.
They are needed
The third step is to encourage students to use academic databases or digital archives in the research process so that you can assume the responsibilities assigned to them. When they prepare bibliographies for their research articles and presentations, require that at least one or more references be extracted from a database or archive that you have entered for them. While this can be an effective way to motivate students to use the educational database, it is not so much fun to solve search challenges for you or them. Try the Search Challenge approach first.
Want answers? If you are interested in answering this challenge, please send me an email and I will be happy to share it with you.
Image Source: Public domain image hosted on Wikipedia https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:StateLibQld_1_139254_ Landing_the_airraft, _Sorses_Cross_in_Brisbane, _Queensland, _ca._1928j.