Take the stress out of research and assignments
Why do students have just as much trouble doing their assignments even though the internet has made it a lot easier to access information? On the surface it doesn’t seem to make sense.
There are three answers to this question:
- Most people are not skilled at internet search.
- Many people don’t search for the right sort of information.
- When writing their assignments, many people don’t answer the actual question that was asked.
Searching the Internet Better
I have written about how to get more targeted results from Google by using Advanced Search Techniques here.
Google has recently announced that it is about to add a new feature to its internet search results called ‘Knowledge Graph’ which looks like it will be very useful in certain types of research. You can read what they say about it and watch their video here.
(Knowledge Graph is only available in the US at the time of writing.) In addition to supplying you with the usual stuff (millions of websites that contain the words in your search query), Knowledge Graph will provide actual information related in various ways to your search. That information may help you narrow your search, provide you with a summary of related information about the topic, or give you information that will enable you to go deeper or broader into your topic. Knowledge Graph is Google’s first attempt at intelligent search known as Semantic Web Search – this means searching for the meaning behind the words rather than just the words themselves. Technically this is a very difficult thing to do so it may take many years before Semantic Web Search is possible in a wide range of knowledge areas.
Searching for the Right Information
A big issue is that most students waste a lot of time and effort by not searching for the right sort of information in the first place because they have not read the question enough times to fully understand what type of information is required. Most assignments want knowledge, not just raw facts or information. At higher levels of education wisdom and decision-making is also required.
Data is the description of raw facts (e.g. The number of toes a frog has).
Information is summarised data (e.g. The distinguishing features of a frog).
Knowledge is information put into a wider context (e.g. What type of animal a frog is and how it differs from other animals, or why a frog has webbing between its toes).
Wisdom is the use of incomplete knowledge in difficult circumstances to make and act on decisions (e.g. What could be done to stop the decline in frog populations).
Giving the Examiners What They Want
Time and time again I see students throwing marks away because they have not answered the question that was asked even though they knew all the information required. It comes back to reading the question with 100% comprehension – examiners do not give many marks for the right answer to the wrong question!
Examiners are teachers who are highly skilled in the area that the student is writing about BUT they pretend to be unskilled when reading assignments and exam papers because they want to know if the student is able to explain the knowledge to a novice – to somebody who does not know the information being explained. You can read more about this in our book ‘7 Ways You Can Help Your Child Overcome Homework and Study Problems’ which you can download for free here.
Getting Help With Study and Exam Skills
High Performance Learning
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