In case there was some oversight in Chapter 45's discussion on source evaluation, I would like to offer this reminder: if one simply types "legalize marijuana" into Google, one is going to get promotional websites, news articles, .org sites that may be tempting to claim as "credible," and a few sites that may actually lead to something. For example, the White House's website provides some commentary about the issue, and may provide some interesting contextual material that can be cited in an essay. However, by no means does that mean the researcher's job is over. This is simply the tip of the preliminary research iceberg.
"But I don't know what else to do," you say.
"Let's go back over some material we've covered this semester," I reply.
- Academic Writing and how it relates to Audience and Purpose
- Idea Generation, which includes brainstorming, mapping, free-writing, and allowing ourselves time to seriously think about concepts and issues
- Textual Analysis as a method of evaluation and figuring out value
- The benefits of Annotation and Note-Taking, especially when conducting research
- Using Databases to find Scholarly material because those sources have been thorough Reviewed and are of the highest quality
- The purpose and value of using a Research Plan, not just writing some words on a page so we can get a pat on the head for completing an assignment
"I didn't really read those chapters," you say. "I just found the answers to pass the quizzes."
"Oh," I say. "I guess we're at the point where I explain to you the difference between education and conditioning. You see, students are conditioned to perform in a classroom. It's a simple reward-based system. The teacher holds the hoop; the student jumps through and is then assessed on how well the jumping was performed. Education is different. Education happens when a student sees the value in the conditioning. Education happens when a student gains the foresight to see the future beyond the bell ringing at the end of the day. Education happens when Pavlov's dogs are no longer salivating when the bell rings, but are in the kitchen making their own food because they've learned to do things for themselves and not wait to be told what to do."
This is where the awkward pause comes in and separates those who do and those who are too afraid to try.
Back to the sources: "I don't know how," you say.
"Ask, and then try," I say. "Try and see what happens. If you fail, you learn from your mistakes so that you don't fail again. If you don't learn from your mistakes, then you truly fail. But you just don't fail yourself; you've failed the rest of us who have been cheering for you since day one."