Information Literacy 4 - Applying Information
Valencia College Libraries

Module 4

[Read the following scene. Then, click "next page" to begin the learning module.]

 

val_altb1.JPG Scene 4

English class, Thursday morning. Val is talking to her professor. Matt is sitting in the front row, nearby.

PROFESSOR SAGE: Val, I thought your annotated bibliography was very good. You selected some excellent sources on tattoos.

VAL: Oh, thanks! I was really surprised at how much I found, especially after I talked with the librarian. Who would have guessed so many people would write about tattoos?

PROFESSOR SAGE:

Should it surprise you? You wanted to write about them!

VAL: [Smiles] True, but only because I wanted to get a tattoo, myself.

PROFESSOR SAGE:

So you were doing your own personal research at the same time?

VAL: I guess that's true. I hadn't really thought about it like that, but I really was doing my own research. I didn't want to have any regrets.

MATT: [Pointing to his upper arm] Smart! I'd love to have this one removed - it's my ex's name!

VAL: [Grimaces] Ouch!

MATT: Did you end up getting your tattoo?

VAL: Yep! [She exposes a small flower tattooed just above her hip.] I wasn't sure at first if I should, but I talked with my friends about it, and they kinda talked me into it. So I found some online reviews that recommended a really good place. And I got the picture of the flower I wanted from a tattoo blog I found.

PROF: Well, today I'll be introducing our new research paper assignment, so just remember, Val, you'll use more scholarly sources for your paper than you did for your personal research. [Addressing the class] Alright, everyone, let's get started. [She begins distributing the new assignment sheet.]

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Introduction: Effectively Applying Information

flower1.JPG The next step in research is to know how and when to use the information gathered. Now that Val has collected several sources on her topic, she has to decide:

This module explains how Val decided which sources to use in her paper and how to apply them. Complete all activities to learn how to apply sources in different situations. 

 

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Factors to Consider: The Assignment

backpack1.JPG Val is glad she started her research with an annotated bibliography; she has a good list of sources to choose from for her final paper. The problem now is deciding which ones should she include.

To help her decide, Val first looks at her research paper assignment. It says:

 "Include in your paper references to at least five sources. At least two of the five sources should be scholarly journal articles from the library databases. At least one should be a book (hard-copy print book or e-book is OK). The final two sources can be your choice."

 Val recalls Professor Sage explaining that the source requirements were intended to (1) give the students practice accessing and using different kinds of sources, and (2) steer them toward the most appropriate sources for the paper. 

Overall, Val is glad to have this guidance from Professor Sage. It does make her decision easier, but she still doesn't know how she'll choose the last two sources for her paper.

The bottom line: When deciding which sources are most appropriate, the first factor to consider is the requirements of the assignment; if there is one.

 

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Factors to Consider: Context of the Presentation

friends2.JPG Val continues reading her assignment sheet:

"Remember, this research paper is a scholarly study of a topic, not a personal manifesto. Your final product should be professionally written and should include credible sources appropriate to a scholarly context."

Val now realizes why Professor Sage wanted her to use at least two scholarly journal articles. The requirement helped Val choose sources appropriate for a scholarly context.

This also explains Professor Sage's comment to Val that her paper would be based on different kinds of sources from those used for her personal decision. She thinks about the comments she has gotten from her friends, online reviews she has looked at, and blogs she has read. They have all helped her decide on her new tattoo ... but Val knows she won't include them in her paper.

The bottom line: When deciding which sources are most appropriate, consider the context of the presentation, including whether it is scholarly/professional or informal/personal. 

In the activity on the following page, review the following types of sources and their appropriate contexts -- scholarly/professional or informal/personal.

 

 

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Activity

The following activity will introduce 12 different types of sources. Click the "Show" button beneath each flash card (or check the "Show Definition" box once) to see examples and definitions, and to discover in which context it belongs. Click the arrow to see the next card.

  

Review the answers:

The following sources are usually appropriate in a scholarly context:

The following sources are usually appropriate only in an informal context:

Answer the following quiz question to check your understanding of this concept:

 Toggle open/close quiz question

 

Factors to Consider: Purpose of the Presentation

point1.JPG Val now has a good idea of which sources are most appropriate to use in her paper. But she's not exactly sure what information to include in her paper. Which facts and ideas are important enough to put in her paper?

Val recalls Professor Sage emphasizing that the research paper would be persuasive - Val needs to take a stand on an issue related to her topic.

Val decides to take the side that 'employees should be allowed to wear and display their tattoos on the job.'   She will now look for information and quotes that help accomplish the purpose of the paper - to persuade the "audience" of her point of view.

Val sees that she has some articles with opinions in support of her side and some opposing. Also, she has some statistics and primary sources that don't express a point of view, but could be used to demonstrate her main ideas.

The bottom line: When deciding which information to include, consider the purpose of the presentation, and include information that helps accomplish that goal.

Complete the activity on the following page to help Val outline the points she will make in her paper.

 

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Activity

Val has decided on two main arguments to support her claim that "employees should be allowed to wear and display their tattoos on the job":

(1) Banning tattoos violates the Freedom of Speech.

(2) Tattoos have become more accepted today.

Also, her assignment requires that she include a third paragraph explaining the opposing side, in favor of workplace tattoo bans.

In the following activity, sort the cards into appropriate piles based on where Val should include each piece of information in her paper.

  

Review the answers:

Banning tattoos violates the Freedom of Speech:

Tattoos have become more accepted today:

Note that in the above paragraphs, Val uses statistics, data and primary sources to support her point. Even though the sources are neutral and do not actually express a point of view on Val's issue, Val can use the information as evidence in her argument.

Opposing argument: For tattoo bans:

The important point is that Val is able to use sources in her paper even if they support the opposing side. Explaining the other side gives the audience a more complete understanding of the issue. Since Val's paper is persuasive, she will use her other two main points to argue against this side.

 

Factors to Consider: Characteristics of the Audience

blocks.JPG One final note in Val's assignment helps as well. It says to "assume the audience has little background knowledge on the topic."

Val had figured that Professor Sage was the audience for her paper, but she now realizes that Professor Sage wants her to imagine an audience for her paper - people who know very little about the issue of tattoos in the workplace.

 

Val recalls what it was like to read a textbook when she knew very little about the topic. It was helpful that the textbook gave a lot of background information, such as definitions and history of the topic, to help her understand.

On the other hand, Val did not want to be bored with facts she already knew. When the information was too basic, it seemed like a waste of time. Val realizes that she needs to build on the audience's prior knowledge of the topic.

Val now understands that the characteristics of her audience - what they already know, and what they need to know - about the topic, should help her decide what information to include from her sources.

The bottom line: When deciding which information to include, consider the characteristics of the audience, such as their current knowledge and what they need to know about the topic.

In the activity on the following page, help Val choose the most useful background information for her audience.

 

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Activity

Try the two multiple choice questions first. Then complete the ordering activity.

 Show/Hide Question #1

 Show/Hide Question #2

 

  

 

 

Review the answers:

Question #1:

Val wants to make the statement that "Banning tattoos violates employees' rights to Freedom of Speech." Which more basic piece of information does the audience need, in order to understand this statement?

 Question #2:

Val does not want to bore her audience with information they already know. If Val's audience already understands that "tattoos are a form of self expression," then which more basic piece of information do they probably also already understand?

Ordering Activity:

Correct order:

  1. Tattoos are a type of body art.
    Most basic definition of tattoos.
  2. Tattoos are a form of self-expression.
    More complex idea. For the audience to understand this, they should also know that tattoos are a type of body art.
  3. Banning tattoos violates the Freedom of Speech.
    More complex idea. For the audience to understand this, they should also know what tattoos are and that they are a form of self expression.

Factors to Consider: Prior Knowledge

degree1.JPG Still, one question bothers Val. Professor Sage specifically wanted students to choose a topic of personal interest. Does that mean she should include what she already knew about tattoos before doing her research?

Unsure, Val sends Professor Sage an e-mail. An hour later, she receives this response:

"Good question, Val! I ask that you only use scholarly sources for this paper. Scholarly sources are from experts on the topic. Therefore, it depends on whether or not you are an expert on tattoos! If you are an expert, then please include your credentials in the paper so that I know. If you're not an expert, then it's best to quote someone who is!"

Although Val is pretty confident in her knowledge of tattoos, she realizes that she doesn't have a degree or any formal experience to back it up. She decides to quote her sources instead.

The bottom line: Include your prior knowledge of the topic only if you can give credentials to back up your information. 

 

 

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Val's Paper So Far...

Pause here and take a look at how Val has planned out her paper at this point.

 

I. Introduction

A. Background information / Hook: Tattoos are a form of self-expression (Source: Book, Written on the body : the Tattoo in European and American History, Princeton University Press -- educational publisher)

B. Background information: Description of the issue.

C. Thesis: "Employees should be allowed to wear and display their tattoos on the job."

 

II. Main Point #1: Banning tattoos violates the Freedom of Speech

A. Discussion of Freedom of Speech (Source: Text of the First Amendment -- government document)

B. Tattoos as a form of speech (Source: article from Wake Forest Law Review -- scholarly journal)

 

III. Main Point #2: Tattoos have become more accepted today.

A. More Americans now have tattoos (Source: Book, Written on the body : the tattoo in European and American history, Princeton University Press -- educational publisher)

B. Americans' attitudes about tattoos are improving (Source: Pew Research Center -- expert organization)

 

IV. Opposing Argument: Employers should be allowed to regulate tattoos.

A. Courts have upheld employers' legal rights to ban tattoos. (Source: article from Advanced Management Journal -- scholarly journal)

B. Employers report increased sales when dress codes are enforced (Source: National Public Radio -- reputable news organization)

 

V. Conclusion

A. Summary of the main points

B. Re-statement of thesis: "Employees should be allowed to wear and display their tattoos on the job."

 

Note that as her assignment requires, Val has included two scholarly journals and one book. She has also selected three additional sources appropriate for a scholarly context (she was only required to use two additional sources, but found that she needed three!). She has included data and evidence that should help support the purpose of her paper. She has also included background information to bring her inexperienced audience up to speed on the issue.

 

Format of the Presentation

 

barista.JPG At last, Val is nearly finished with her paper. But, she's still undecided about a few things:

 

Val reviews what she has learned about the factors to consider. She considers the assignment first, but there are no directions about paraphrasing, pictures, or graphs. Unsure what to do, she visits Professor Sage during office hours.

Professor Sage suggests that Val use her best judgment based on what she has learned so far about integrating sources into her paper.

 

(Photo credit: matthanns. DSC_3355. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.)

 

puzzle1.JPG First, Val considers the purposes of the presentation. Since her purpose is to persuade the audience, Val decides to use the picture, because she thinks the image will be more powerful than simply describing it.

Next, Val considers the context of the paper. It is an academic paper and needs to be professionally written. Val decides that a graph will look neat and professional in her paper.

Finally, Val considers the characteristics of the audience. The audience has little background knowledge of the topic. Based on this, Val decides to paraphrase instead of directly quoting from her source, so that she can make the language less technical and help her audience understand.

 

The bottom line: Decisions on the format for presenting information should be based on the requirements of the assignment first. However, beyond that, consider the context of the presentation, the purposes of the presentation, and the characteristics of the audience.

 

Please continue to the next slide to test your knowledge

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Test Your Knowledge! 

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Conclusion

flower1.JPG This concludes Tutorial #4: Applying Information. In this module, you learned:

You also acquired the following skills:

 

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