Cheby, Lisa. (2016) Search strategy instruction: shifting from baby bird syndrome to curious cat critical thinking. Knowledge Quest 44(4) 48-53.
Cheby draws attention to the problem that high school and college level students lack basic research and critical thinking skills. She asserts that students are not given enough time or guided instruction to learn how to undergo the inquiry process, where a deeper level of learning occurs. A fair amount of the article discusses how most of the problems are due to the fact that students do not know how to construct search terms to use for databases and/or search engines.
I think that Cheby brings to light an issue that often gets overlooked amidst all the talk about the need to achieve equal access to digital resources. Yes, it is of utmost importance that all school libraries have access to the all the digital and print resources necessary to help students succeed. However, what gets forgotten once the said resources are obtained is that the school does not take the necessary steps to train students nor faculty/staff to use these resources to their utmost capabilities. In this article, Cheby focuses on the problem of students not having the skill of being able to employ successful search strategies when using the library’s online research databases. Too often, when librarians hold research workshops showing students how to navigate the databases and use all of the database tools, the librarians conducting the workshops provide students with search terms to move the workshops along. Spoon-feeding students search terms is what Cheby calls searching like a “baby bird.” Cheby, however, wants students to be as curious as “cats.” Since students are given search terms by the librarian, students will always yield results when they attend a database workshop under the supervision of a librarian. However, frustration takes root when the student researches on their own and they yield little to no results when they use search terms that they create. This is because librarians and teachers do not invest the necessary amount of time to teach students the process of constructing effective search terms. Cheby, a fellow MLIS candidate at SJSU, effectively underlines the importance of getting students to engage themselves fully in the inquiry stage of the research process. Cheby outlines how in order to do this, it requires the cooperation and commitment from teachers and school librarians to set aside time in the lesson to show students how to conduct successful searches.