(Post title with apologies to The Police.)
Yes, this week the first essay, a short research essay analyzing a primary source document, is due. I’m fielding lots of questions, including a surprising number about how they can cite me. Me, me, me, me, me and my lectures! Me from the course manual I wrote for the other course they’re taking or took last year via continuing education. I’ll probably even get one or two wanting to cite from the chapters I wrote for one of the Wiley Pop Culture and History series!
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be flattered. I’m not. Mostly, I feel worried. We had an in-class workshop on how to find research resources using our library catalogue and our databases. I passed out a rubric that underlined the expectation the research would have to draw on a book, chapter or article from our library collections. I spent a fair chunk of two class sessions explaining what we’re doing and why the research part is important.
When they want to cite me, it feels little better than when they cite some random website. Both strike me as timid or lazy choices made by students who’re afraid of not finding an acceptable source or just don’t want to work at the research required. If they don’t learn to search effectively and in different ways besides using the internet search engines, they’re not going to uncover the majority of scholarship. They need to learn how to start finding other scholars’ writings, how to read those effectively and how to use this information in their essays. That’s one of the objectives of this course!
If all they do is parrot back my own words at me, how will they know if I wasn’t leading them astray? I want them to test my suggestions from our class time, not just blindly accept one of the interpretations that I’ve offered. I want them to see if they can articulate an idea and find some support for it outside of what I’ve said or what’s there in their textbook!
I guess I’ll find out on Wednesday how many of the students got those messages.