Development of a Critical Thinking Tool for Undergraduates Related to Online Database
Sue Ford, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
An essential skill for students in scientific disciplines is information literacy, which includes identifying, locating, evaluating, and using needed resources. Standard 2 of “Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education” (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2000) states “The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently.” Students enter college with a diverse set of skills for composing term papers and may be ill-prepared for literature searches required in science courses. The current learning instrument was developed to provide students in a 2nd year toxicology course with a self-paced assignment designed to improve information retrieval competencies and to promote critical thinking skills related to library research. Students are first oriented in the classroom to the resources available through the University library. They are then given the assignment -a “Library Scavenger Hunt”- comprised of ten questions which can be answered using the university’s online databases. Questions guide students to compare search results using different strategies and databases, and to find answers to specific questions. The final question is a short text passage drawn from current events with instructions to formulate a question and a search strategy to answer it. Students have 7-10 days to finish the assignment, which is evaluated by the instructor and returned with feedback. At its completion, students: a) are familiar with the logic and logistics of the databases, b) have learned how to perform more effective searches, c) know how to obtain the articles retrieved by their searches, and d) have hands-on experience with different databases. By using a problem-based learning strategy, students are better prepared to execute sophisticated searches for their term papers and other assignments. The project is further described at http://stjohns.campusguides.com/LibraryScavengerHunt and was supported by a Department of Education Title III grant (P031A050301) to St. John’s University.