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October 4, 2007 / Ben Chun

Freshmen (Part 2)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about realizing how young the freshmen really are. Today, I’m feeling that pretty intensely. They’re supposed to be working on a paper about the effectiveness of Google’s advanced search features. To help structure their work, I created a worksheet. The idea is to help them organize their thoughts about what topics they are studying in their other classes, what types of searches they can do in relation to those topics, how to improve those searches, and their conclusions about the efficacy of the advanced features.

Unfortunately, I’m running into a lot of difficulty getting students to really think about what they’re doing. There’s a lot of distraction that I think stems from them not understanding what I’m asking for. I probably should have had them do the hands-on searching and worksheet before even introducing the paper. As it is, I’m getting a lot of writing about what the advanced features of Google do, and a lot of speculation and hypothetical examples. I’m not getting a lot of traction with the concept of using their other classes as examples to explain their position on the issue. It’s frustrating for everyone, and I feel responsible. I guess I’m teaching writing now, and I don’t really know how to do that very well.

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