Thursday, 4 October 2012

Research Skills for our IB Diploma students

Throughout the past few months the Digital Literacy Team has been working with the Secondary Library to deliver a series of workshops to all Grade 11 students, about research skills and information literacy. It is a central aspect of the UWCSEA Profile that our students are able to critically solve complex problems based upon informed and ethical decisions. Part of this theme relates to the ability of students to analyse and synthesize information which is a constant part of their IB Diploma course work, including Extended Essays and writing in the Theory of Knowledge course.

The resources for our workshops at the following public site. Please have a look at this website, explore some of the tutorials and discuss some of the material with your child.



SOURCES OF INFORMATION

The first workshop looked at potential sources of information focusing on academic sources including electronic databases and academic journals. We outlined the available databases from within the UWCSEA website portal (Encyclopedia Britannia, SIRS, NewsBank) and then looked at the eResources available from the Singapore National Library.

The Singapore National Library subscribes to a vast array of scholarly articles and also several more mainstream publications such as Time Magazine and The Economist. Our Grade 11 students have all registered for a Digital Account with the National Library, allowing them full access to the eResources section. Whilst this may not be something they will access very often, it is a good point of reference when they begin writing about more in-depth and focused topics such as an Extended Essay. This resource is also available to parents who can sign in with the relevant ID Card or FIN pass at the registration page.

REFERENCING AND ACADEMIC HONESTY

The second workshop looked at referencing and academic honesty. We covered the principles of quoting, summarising and paraphrasing and reinforced referencing styles. The main form of referencing used across the High School is the Modern Language Association style, unless guidance is provided otherwise from individual teachers.

A key tool introduced in the second workshop with all Grade 11 students is an application called Zotero. This is citation tool that helps students collate sources of information as they progress with research. They can either manually add a reference by typing in the essential meta data (author, title, publisher, date) or use the connector within an Internet Browser. The connector is a nifty gadget that grabs data from a academic journal about the author, title, publisher etc, and places it back in the student's Zotero library. It also attaches a PDF of the original journal.

The final wow factor is left for last. Zotero will let students to extract a bibliography in their format of choice from the collected resources, and a small plug in allows students to complete the in-text references. Whilst we still focus on teaching the principles of referencing, tools such as this help student's manage the process and focus on the analysis and evaluation skills.