Recently in Undergraduate Research Category

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The Peer Research Consultants are now available for Fall semester!

We now have drop-in hours and appointments available with our two veteran PRCs and we will have expanded hours on Oct. 3rd once the new PRCs complete training. We have a total of 4 consultants this fall -- Devyn, Chris, Karen and Drew. 

To review, the Peer Research Consultants (PRC) is a program aimed at first year, international, and first generation undergraduates and provide one-on-one assistance to students to help them develop the research strategies and find useful sources (articles, books, etc.) needed for excellent research papers.  

The service compliments our strong liaison librarian program integrated into all departments on campus and our great service point staff. We know many students are comfortable with the peer tutoring model that the PRCs use and the average interaction between students and PRCs is 30 minutes. The PRCs can help students in narrowing a topic, finding articles and books, selecting academic sources, evaluating and more. The PRCs are familiar with the Intro to Library Research workshops and will help build on the skills learned in these sessions.

[it is linked on the "Course Support" tab]

What do students have to say about the PRCs?
  • "She was very helpful when I was looking for specific information on the library website. She explained the website very well and gave excellent tips!"
  • "He was very helpful in  helping me figure out what I wanted to write my paper on and where I could find the sources. Afterwards I was able to understand my paper."
  • "Approachable advising that assisted me with furthering my research goals; very useful."

What do instructors have to say about the PRCs?

  • " of my students came in raving about his experience with the peer research consultants....Since then a couple more students have made visits and in their emails to me, I see that their research focus is improving. This is a great service!"
Fall 2012 Walk-in Hours in Walter SMART Commons or Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence-141 Appleby (with full staffing starting October 3rd)
  • Mondays: 11:30-5:30
  • Tuesdays: 10:30 to 6:00
  • Wednesday: 11:30 to 6:30
  • Thursdays: 11 to 1 and 2:30 to 4:30
  • Fridays: 1 to 5
Interesting report about our campus:

"This study reports on the responses of 232 international undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota who answered a survey about the challenges they faced in their first semester on campus.  The survey questions focused on what made learning difficult, what major challenges international students recognized for students adjusting to studying at a large university, and what would help international students adjust more easily during their first year.  Answers to both multiple response and open-ended questions were analyzed and four main themes emerged from the data.  These themes include difficulties studying and learning in a second language, a lack of shared academic and classroom culture, feelings of isolation, and general cultural differences outside of academics.  Sub-themes are also identified and recommendations and resources for addressing the main challenges students identified are provided."

A few additional highlights:



I tripped across a list of top 10 lists for CLA students and we got 3 of the top 10 study spaces:


Below is a recap and link to recording of the Instructional Design Show & Tell held March 2, 2012. 

Instructional Design Show & Tell
March 2, 2012
Description: View some of the current projects being worked on by the Libraries Instruction Design Team - Paul Zenke, Andrew Palahniuk, and intern Ian O'Neill.  From an infographic on poster design to a Research introduction to a virtual world game prototype based on the history of the Bohemian Flats, this informal show-and-tell will have time for questions and will inspire you to consider new ideas for elearning and sharing your content and expertise with users.

View recording: (Note: Audio starts at 2 minutes)

  • All projects are a combination of with learning objectives, instructional activities and assessments.
1. Poster Design Poster/Simulationposterjudging.jpg

2. Face-to-Face Workshop (What the World Knows About You: Online Identity and Privacy with Social Media)
  • Worked on needs assessment and learner assessment 
  • Used pre-survey
  • Authentic activity was to look up partner in the workshop to see how much information you can find
  • Practiced for staff and changed tailored it more to students based on feedback
3. Medium as Message 
  • Updated technology and add new features 
  • Originally created in Pachyderm/flash, but need to change delivery as Pachyderm no longer supported. Original tool limited text and was hard for users to get additional content.  Created in HTML5 (not in Flash so it could be viewed on mobile device)
  • Also hope to add quizzes and additional interactivity in the future
  • Beta:
4. Demo iphone game based on the Bohemian Flats 
  • Created using ARIS during design jamARIS_quests.jpg
  • Choose your own adventure/quest 
  • Augmented reality--so if you have your mobile device and are standing on Washington Ave Bridge you will see an overlay of historic photos.

To work with Paul and the Instructional Design team, simply send an email to

Improve the search tools!

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Google-Trained Minds Can't Deal with Terrible Research Database UI from the Atlantic by Alan Jacobs is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College


"Not long ago I was using a research database to try to get a PDF of an article published in a journal to which my college's library has a digital subscription. I knew the title of the article, the author's name, the title of the journal, and the issue date. I plugged all those in to the appropriate text boxes, clicked "search" . . . and got hundreds of results. But the one that I wanted wasn't on the first several pages.

I sent an email to a reference librarian describing this event, and he wrote back saying, "Oh, see, you should have entered the journal's ISSN." Really? Exact title of article and journal, exact name of author, exact date of publication -- that's not enough?"

"There's no question that students' search skills are generally quite poor, and need to get better, but to some extent we've all had our search habits trained by Google's algorithms, which in most cases -- though by no means all -- are quite effective."

"So maybe our greater emphasis shouldn't be on training users to work with bad search tools, but to improve the search tools. Especially since serious research questions aren't as afflicted by spammy
SEO as many other queries, by this point in the development of online life we ought to be doing a lot better than we are."

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