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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

UCWR Guide for Faculty

Search Tools Activity

  • You will cover this activity and/or the topic development activity with the class prior to the librarian working with the class on strategic searching
  • Time expected to complete: 20–30-minutes
  • Materials included: A Search Tools video and slides created by librarians that demonstrates how to use Google Scholar; the Library Catalog; Credo Reference; and Academic Search Complete. Viewers will learn how these tools compare and how to get help from the libraries.
  • Purpose: The purpose of this video and activity is to help students think about the types of information available in a variety of search tools and the search options and filters that the search tools offer, to determine the effectiveness of that tool for an information need.
  • Student Learning Outcome: Students will evaluate various search tools in order to determine the most appropriate search tool for a specific information need.
  • Timing: Students should understand that they will be expected to conduct research for the researched argument assignment and have watched the search tools video.

In-Class Option

  • Make sure the students have watched the Search Tools video.
  • Divide the students into four groups, and assign each group a search tool to explore:
  • Explain that the students will be given 10 minutes to spend comparing their assigned search tool to Google.
  • Ask the group to think of a topic to research just for this exercise – it can be something fun that the group is interested in learning more about.
  • Ask the group to do some searching on that topic in the assigned search tool and in Google and work through this form to compare the search functions and results.
  • After 10 minutes, make sure that the students have completed the form and reconvene as a class.
  • Ask each group to present to the class:
    • What types of sources were in the results in their search tool? How did that compare to the sources they found in Google?
    • Were the sources they found relevant to their research topic? Did they find more relevant sources in their search tool or in Google?
    • What limiters were available to refine their search results in the search tool they were assigned?
    • What did they like about the search tool they were assigned? What did they like about searching in Google?
    • What was challenging about searching the search tool they were assigned? What was challenging about searching in Google?
  • Once every group has presented, ask the class:
    • Would they choose Google or one of the other assigned search tools in the following scenarios:
      • You need background information or a quick overview of a topic
      • You need a scholarly source
      • You are browsing for information
      • You are looking for a known item

Wrap Up

Remind students that:

  • The UCWR research guide is available to help them as they progress through the class this fall 
  • A librarian will be visiting the class to talk about strategic searching once they have selected their research topics and are going to start working on their annotated bibliography.
  • Librarians are available to help students determine which search tools will work best for their research – they can reach out on chat or in person.