November 21st, 2008

Your Learning Style and Library Research

Your particular learning style not only affects your experience inside a courseroom or your study habits, it also has an impact on library research. We librarians like to say there’s no perfect search, but there’s also no perfect way to go about a search. You have to find the techniques and strategies that work best for you.

Not sure about how to succeed based on your learning style? You can check out these helpful tips from Heather Johnson at Teaching

Here are some ideas for tailoring library searches to learning styles:

Visual learners

  • Make a mind map of your search topic and results.
  • Outline or list what you’ve found, and what you still need to find.
  • Organize the articles you find so each subtopic of your research question has a category.

Auditory learners

  • Keep your search process logical. Don’t go off on search tangents.
  • Read article titles and abstracts aloud.
  • Put on some music.

Kinesthetic learners

  • Create a search process you can use each time you do research.
  • Mix a short period of searching with another activity. Add activity to your searching (perhaps print articles as you go, so you are frequently moving).
  • Create a diagram of your search topic or search strategy. Refer to it after breaks from searching.

When I’m searching, either for my own research or as part of answering a reference question, I use a variety of techniques listed above, as well as some I’ve developed based on my own preferences. For example, I will simultaneously do the same search in multiple databases. I prefer to toggle between database screens, evaluating both sets of results as I go. This type of search could drive another person crazy. Other librarians maximize their search in one database at a time.

How you get to the results you need isn’t particularly important. The important thing is that you develop a search strategy that works for you. And how do you know your strategy works? You find relevant articles or information in a timely manner with relatively little stress and frustration.

– Erin


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Time November 24, 2008 at 7:35 am

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