The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Search bars keep students captive

Viewpoint by Casey Holder/photo editor

Brothers and sisters, as the first generation to have unlimited access to knowledge at our fingertips via the Internet, it is shameful that we will be remembered for Facebook. Is updating Twitter all that this vast resource is useful for?

College students can’t research. That’s what a study released Nov. 1 by the University of Washington’s Project Information Literacy said, and it did the research.

The report said students feel overwhelmed by the torrents of information available to them on their campus and, thus, take the most manageable and predictable route through this info to what will most likely be a passing grade.

But we did not get to rocking FM radio (created at Columbia in 1933) or to overprescribing antibiotics (discovered at Rutgers in 1945) through manageable and predictable research at the university level. We got these keys to civilization with cunning intelligence, drive and leather-bound books, not with Ebsco host and Apple computers. Are we too bogged down in databases and keyword searches to even think? Is there a gap in teaching research techniques between high school and college?

“But for many of today’s undergraduates, the idea of being able to conduct an exhaustive search is inconceivable. Information seems to be as limitless as the universe,” said an unidentified 32-year-old librarian in the report’s opening. 

This study found that 84 percent of the 8,353 students surveyed from 25 different college campuses responded that “getting started” was the most difficult part of executing research. This was followed closely by problems with defining a topic, narrowing that topic and filtering through the massive amounts of results provided.

The report goes on to state that students are seeking the assistance of faculty advisers over that of research librarians with professional training in these areas.

As TCC students, we have access to the library catalog, research databases and even an “Ask a Librarian” feature through the library website at www.library.tccd.edu. You can’t find that on Twitter.

Even with the availability of a librarian to Sherpa students through the Everest of material, it’s easy to get  overwhelmed and lose sight of the final goal — not the A, but the answer.

It’s unfortunate we have developed the means of discovery so far as to make discovery itself difficult. Ultimately, the task lies, as the project points out, at the feet of the university to teach students how to sail the turbulent waters of discovery as it always has.

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