by Patti Gallo
English Instructor, Terry Campus
Delaware Technical Community College
Tags: Active and Collaborative Learning
I created a collaborative activity for my pre-tech writing ALP students that would help them understand the differences, as well as the similarities, between sources that can be used in a research paper. They were to use their understanding of credible sources that we talked about in their previous class (ENG 121).
I set up 5 research stations around the classroom: 2 magazines (Time/Real Simple); the Sunday New York Times; one physics textbook; one laptop set to the CDC website; one laptop set to the Wall Street Journal website. The students were divided into groups of two and asked to visit each station. They were given 10 minutes to evaluate the resource at the station, discuss what they found, and take notes.
I was amused by the students who did not know a Sunday paper could be so heavy and have so many sections (and cost $5.00)! Many were distracted by the recipes in the Real Simple magazine. I liked hearing these revelations, but I had to make sure to bring the focus back to the purpose of evaluating these resources for research purposes.
The next class, I assigned a specific source to each group. The students spent the first 15 minutes working on a mini oral presentation; they then had to present their findings about the source to the rest of the class. For those students who were not in class to visit the stations, they were required to ask valid questions of the presenters.
I asked the students what they felt they learned from the experience:
• They got a better understanding of what it means to use a print source (both the good and the bad).
• They liked working with a partner to share ideas and see someone else’s perspective on source evaluation.
• They, begrudgingly, liked presenting what they found to the students who had missed the class.
• The felt pride in knowing the answers to questions asked by the audience!
• The students were kept occupied and engaged in the learning process because they were continually moving around the classroom.
• I liked hearing their likes and dislikes about the sources.
• I learned a lot from listening to their difficulties in finding material in a print source as compared with looking online.
• I answered more questions about sources and credibility that might not have been asked if I had simply lectured about the sources.