Exploring Databases with Google Docs

Submitted by Kirsten Hansen on December 19th, 2017
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Short Description: 

During this activity, students work in small groups to explore assigned databases and then share back what they learn in a Google Doc projected at the front of the classroom.

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Additional Instructor Resources (e.g. in-class activities, worksheets, scaffolding applications, supplemental modules, further readings, etc.): 

To see how this activity fits into my somewhat-typical first year instruction session, see the sample lesson plan below. Please note: This is a real lesson plan and thus refers to class activities not explained here. The lesson plan is mostly meant to show how the google doc exercise can fit into a larger class session. If you have questions about the other activities mentioned in the lesson plan, please ask!

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Learning Outcomes: 

• Students will construct a search using their keywords in a designated database in order to find three articles are superficially relevant to their research topic.
• Students will analyze one database in order to articulate one useful feature of the database for their research assignment, and explain why or how the feature might be useful to their assignment.

Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

I frequently use this activity for first year research classes across a wide variety of disciplines when the faculty member teaching the class has asked me to demo databases. I have also used it with great success in higher-level discipline specific classes including biology and my colleagues have used it with graduate students. This activity works best for classes with a research assignment and when students have received the research assignment and are starting to think about their research topic prior to the IL session. However, I've also had classes where students have not yet received their research assignment and working with a single research question as a whole class works just fine. In that case, I usually have a research question that I've created that we can work with but with discipline specific classes we've also created research questions together at the beginning of class.

Suggested Citation: 
Hansen, Kirsten. "Exploring Databases with Google Docs." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2017.