Dawn Rodrigues, University of Texas, Brownsville, "The Research Paper and the World Wide Web: Integrating Library and Web"

Summary: Rodrigues discussed some of the issues faced by students using the Web for research. While there are new technologies to master, Rodrigues argued that researching on the web makes many of the issues faced in traditional library research -- evaluating sources, finding key terms -- more obvious, and hence easier for students to grasp. For example, asking students to differentiate between a Web page written by an elementary school class and one written by a college professor is much more clear cut (hopefully) than asking students to articulate the differences between an article in Psychology Today and Journal of American Psychologists (my example). The greater contrast on the Web highlights the issues at hand. So, while the Web is a useful research tool in its own right, it can also help clarify for students the issues they confront in the library, and thus make them better library researchers.

The Book: Rodrigues, who has long been an important scholar in the field of computers & writing, based her presentation on her new book, The Research Paper and the World Wide Web, published by Prentice Hall.

Rodrigues describes her site:

My purpose in The Research Paper and the World Wide Web is to present Web search strategies in the context of the research process. My underlying assumption is that research on any topic should include both print and online sources. The organization of the book--and of this website--reflects that purpose. Rather than beginning with Web basics, I begin with the research process, then step back to present different components of Web research.
There is also an online study guide for the book. 

One of the fun things about Rodrigues' presentation was the plethora of tidbits she offered about teaching students research on the Web. For example, Rodrigues reminds teachers who encourage students to use the Internet for research that other faculty may be very resistant to Internet-based research, and its important to make students aware of this.

She also offered some tips about making Internet research more managable. For example, Rodrigues shows how students can use Netscape's bookmark feature to create annotated bibliographies.

But ultimately, the main point of Rodrigues' presentation, and her book, is that learning to navigate the World Wide Web, while it does require a new set of skills, also reinforces many of the same skills used in traditional library research. So Rodrigues uses the Web as an opportunity to teach new skills, while reinforcing traditional ones.

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