03 October 2018 Blogs, Academic, Community College, K-12, Faculty, Librarian

What Happens When Students Mix Content Types?

1,300 faculty members and students report on the impact to learning and research

1,300 faculty members and students report on the impact to learning and research

Early in their academic careers, students are taught to tap multiple sources for their papers and reports. Teachers might direct students in early high school grades to include a magazine, a newspaper and a book among their sources. In college, faculty recommendations expand to include more challenging materials: dissertations, peer-reviewed articles and more recently (and more frequently), video content.

We know intuitively that multiple sources are better than relying on a single source or a single type of content, but a recent survey provides some definition around the impact to learning and research. More than 1,300 faculty members and students overwhelmingly reported that when students use multiple types of content, they…

- Understand concepts and ideas more thoroughly

- Conduct more thorough explorations of existing literature

- Generate better assignments

- Earn better grades in their courses

The survey also explores the importance of exploring multiple content types to developing sound information literacy skills. When students step beyond a single type of content, respondents believe they build critical thinking skills, draw their own conclusions, and learn how to evaluate secondary sources of information. As one respondent put it, “In this era where fake news spreads on old and new media alike, this skill is vital to our democracy!”  (You can learn more about the survey results in the webinar held by the Association of College and Research Libraries and sponsored by ProQuest.)

The rising use of multiple types of content makes search platforms designed to support academic research and learning – especially those that include primary sources, news content, video, books and reports as well as peer-reviewed journals -- more essential to students. First and foremost, these platforms have vetted content appropriate for scholarly research. Finding statistical data or dissertations on a mainstream search engine is time-intensive and likely to return spotty results. Second, these platforms include tools – such as search facets and limiters -- that are designed to make research and learning more efficient.

So, how about a little inspiration?

A new demo hosted by a pair of ProQuest’s professional trainers walk viewers through the discovery phase of research on the timely, multi-disciplinary topic of Women and Immigration. Full of tips and tricks to share with library users of all types, it’s a real-life look at how a user can construct searches on the ProQuest platform to explore multiple types of content and find unique paths to explore – from health impacts of immigration to the increased risk of domestic abuse for undocumented spouses of citizens to the early 1900’s attitudes of cranky U.S. editorial writers versus the welcoming messages of the Canadian government.  

By the way, do you have a story of how you or a user mixed unique content sources and made an exciting discovery? (Bonus points if it’s ProQuest content!). We would love to hear about it. Find us at blogs@proquest.com.