Teaching citations

This is among the least pleasant parts of my memories from teaching in a high school. Citation methods are an important part of research, but the learning curve makes their instruction difficult. From when I taught high schoolers, there were two crucial aspects to citing that I emphasized: Why and How

The How part is easy to teach. Citations are a fill-in-the-blank exercise, wherein students have to find the author, title, and publishing information, putting it in the right order, with the correct punctuation. The Why is more difficult. Teaching high schoolers about the community of scholarship, and the ways citations demonstrate the effectiveness of your own work while applauding (and critiquing) the work of others is complex. Add into this mix the importance of ethics, and it’s a pedagogical mire.

Why, then, did my students always–and I mean without fail, every year–completely understand the theoretical rationale behind citations, while failing to grasp how to do it? They could explain clearly what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, but they could not write a bibliographic entry, even with the template in front of them. 

How do you go about teaching students the proper citation methods in your field? Is it the responsibility of every class to address this? Or just in introductory research methods classes?

About j.d.grunert

Historian, Science and Technology Studier, Librarian, Academish
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1 Response to Teaching citations

  1. Brittanie H says:

    This is interesting. In the final project presentations for this course, one person presented on the opposite of this. They said that their students understood the why (surprisingly) but not the how! He says his students would struggle with finding the information needed in the source when handed a book. Did you find this with your students at all?

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