Search and Research

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
look downstairs into stairwell whirl

photo by Quapan used under creative commons license

So, I’ve been thinking about the difference between searching and researching since I attended an ADVIS tech retreat with Marc Prensky on Wednesday. One of the things he said, and that I and many others in attendance then tweeted, was:

Kids need to know the difference between search and research.

I was talking about this with a colleague at my school the next day. We talked about how quickly many students say, “there’s nothing here” in regards to an online source. Many times it seems students say this before the page has even loaded. As the adult in the room here, it is time to say, “um, have you read any of the words here?” or something to that effect. Less snarky would probably be appropriate.

What we then talked about was that perhaps the students are not really aware of when and how to switch between these two modes of online behavior. Some people love the hunt, the search. It’s exciting to collect all that stuff. They would prefer to search and gather all day long. The reading and digesting of the results, not so appealing to them.

Others, may prefer to sit with that first result and read it start to finish before moving on. This group might spend time on a mediocre source because it came up first and they are in research mode when searching is more appropriate.

How to help kids understand when and how to do both?

Well, I think that being very explicit and naming and explaining these 2 modes of working is a great place to start. So in fifth grade, just to pick a random grade, I would certainly explain these 2 terms and spend a few minutes talking about what it would look like in various settings.

  • Is a dog fetching a ball search or research?
  • What about Trick or Treating?
  • What about examining your candy after trick or treating and trading with your friends or siblings?
  • Maybe have kids make a quick (really quick, 2 minutes quick) skit of what each might look like in our classroom

Once we were good on that, I think a few minutes working on a T-chart of the uses and benefits of each would be in order. I’d also probably ask people to freeze mid-work a time or two and identify which they were doing, search or research.

I’m not guaranteeing any of this would solve the problems of students not wanting to take the time to read carefully. If I could solve that problem, that would be a great gift to society. I do think that being able to name the behavior has to come first.

Does this issue arise in your school or classroom?

  1. This is a great put this. I would sometimes like to have the ability to block google so they can’t search it. This is a much better approach. TEACH them how to research rather than keep them from searching. I will be using this next week. Thanks.

  2. Wendy, I decided to write my own blog post about how it went.

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