E314: Develop & Use Keywords
A sample information literacy session plan for E314.
- Possible previous session: Developing a research question.
- Learning Outcomes: Students will learn to:
- Describe how a search tool uses keywords in order to build effective vocabulary for searches.
- Analyze their research question and separate it into researchable threads in order to develop effective keyword lists.
- Develop effective keyword lists and phrases in order to successfully navigate research tools.
- Bird Exercise:
This conceptual exercise begins a conversation about translating your concepts into language database/catalog creators use and about breaking up your research question into pieces.
- Break into pairs:
- Develop & Use Keywords Worksheet: Workshop with the students through these steps:
- Write down your research question.
- Break your research question into two or three researchable threads (these are concepts you will connect to make an argument in your paper).
- Take one of those threads and identify two or three key terms.
- For each of those terms, develop a list of broader and narrower terms that might be used to describe the same concept.
- Review the overview (on the E314 course guide) of and/or, quotation marks, and parentheses.
- Develop two phrases you would use to search for information about this part of your research question.
- Do you need to change your research question or researchable thread? Explain why and follow these steps again to develop a search phrase.
- Try using discussion as a way to check in and share strategies throughout the worksheet-based workshop.
- For example, ask the students to check in with a partner or with a small group after each step and invite them to offer each other feedback. Then ask a different small group to share their learning process with the class for each step you want to emphasize.
- Or, give the students a few minutes to work individually on one worksheet step, then discuss that step as a class and invite the students to revise their own strategies based on the discussion.
- This process should offer you opportunities to talk about the language of the field of literary scholarship and how search terms can make a difference.
One person is the narrator, one is the artist. The artist will need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Ask everyone to visualize a bird, real or imaginary, doing something (diving, swimming, flying, perching on a branch, etc.). Without looking at what the artist is drawing, the narrator will describe their bird-in-action to the artist. The artist will draw the bird; the artist may ask the narrator to repeat themselves but cannot ask for clarifying questions. Everyone has 20 seconds. Begin. Stop. Artists, show your narrators your bird scene.
Narrators, how many of you see exactly what you imagined? What was the first thing narrators asked artists to draw or the first thing you drew? [Connect this concept with breaking down a research question into researchable threads.] What descriptions were effective? What descriptions were ineffective? What does a search tool (Google, JSTOR, the Catalog) do with your keywords? [Searches for those keywords in the record (title, author, abstract, etc.); some databases may also search the full text of the articles available in full text through that database.]
- Informally assess the discussion in the class.
- Take up these worksheets and give the students written feedback.
- Did the students demonstrate the desired learning outcomes?
- Common student challenges:
- Searching for sources that make their argument for them rather than researching for pieces they can weave together.
- Searching only for sources about a particular text and/or author rather than searching for sources that address a relevant genre, analytical approach, or literary style.
- Possible next session: Explore background information (see E314 course guide).