International Students and Evaluating Websites

Today I did a class for a section of Oral Communication level 3.  The instructor is having her students conduct presentations on their home countries, using information they can cite using MLA style.  They have to create annotated bibliographies to accompany their presentations.  One of their difficulties is evaluating online sources.  When I talked to the instructor in preparation from her class, she noted a few problems:

  1. There are so many language issues that make it difficult to even start thinking about research.
  2. Students usually just grab the first website or article they find, whether or not it’s good information.
  3. Plagiarism because “it sounds better when someone else says it.”

Yesterday, the students had someone from the writing center talk to them about citations and plagiarism, and how to create their annotated bibliographies.  My presentation on evaluating information was meant to get them started to finding the right kind of information.  I tried to keep it simple, and gave them a handout to guide them as I was talking.

While I was talking, the instructor would write down some of the words I was saying, at times interrupting me to make sure the students understood.  At first I was a little taken aback, but it was a good strategy.  I try really hard to make sure they understand, but by actually pausing, writing down difficult words, and asking students to define them, we knew they were getting the info.  I would have loved to have more time with them, and have them actually do an exercise in finding an article and evaluating it, but I only had half a class period.  They said they didn’t have any questions because I had been so thorough in my explanations, but I doubt that’s true!  I gave them a handout with tips, strategies, and my contact info, so hopefully I’ll get a few of them asking me questions later.

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