Finding information for your subject
Getting to grips with the basics of finding information in their subject area early on in their studies will save your students time later when they are facing assignment deadlines. This section provides material for you to use online or at a face-to-face tutorial. Remind your students they will need to have their OU Computer Username and Password to hand to use many of these resources.
These materials will help your students to:
- understand the different categories of information that can be used to find information in their subject area
- know about the key information resources in their subject area
- be able to use the 'Online collections by subject' pages of the Library website to find information relevant to their subject area
Suggested level: 1
Safari provides a useful introduction to different categories of information (e.g. reference material, journals) relevant to different subject areas, and gives an overview of the most useful resources in a specific subject area. Each resource is supported by a helpsheet, which some students may want to print out and have next to their computer while searching.
Here are some activities that use Safari to introduce students to information for their subject:
- Ask students to go to Safari, select their subject from the list, and read the Key Resources page for their subject. Discuss the different categories of information (e.g. newspapers, websites, journals) and when you might want to use them.
- Ask students to select a few different categories of information from the Key Resources page, and to follow the example link for each one. Ask them to search their chosen resources for information relevant to their topic. When they have completed their searches, encourage your students to discuss the relevance to their specific information needs of each category of information, and the value of the information retrieved. Questions to explore might include the following:
- Were the specialist organisations useful?
- Did the reference material provide what students required?
- How easy was it to use the resources?
Suggested level: 2 and beyond
Using the 'Selected resources for your study' pages
- Post the link to the Selected resources for your study page to your module forum or website, or send the relevant subject listing to students in hard copy.
- Encourage students to think of examples of information they might need for their next assignment or project.
- Ask the students to visit their subject area on the Library site by selecting the appropriate subject from the list.
- Ask them to select one resource which is likely to help them find material for their assignment or project from each of the categories of information (e.g. ejournals, ebooks, databases, websites). Ask them to search for information using their chosen resources.
- Ask them to use this evaluation template to record their experiences.
- Discuss their findings. Questions to explore might include:
- Which category of information did they find most useful?
- How easy was it to find the information required?
- Which resources might they use for their studies? Why?