Course Exam – Accessing Information (INFS 200)

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your research skills? How about your Internet-based research techniques? Do you have difficulty discerning which websites contain reputable information?

When it comes to writing essays, your background research can certainly influence your essay grades. AU students now have the opportunity to polish their electronic-based research skills by enrolling in AU’s revised course, Accessing Information (INFS 200). A 3-credit course in the humanities with no pre-requisites, Accessing Information (INFS 200) emphasizes Internet-based information storage and retrieval, helping students gain quality research for excellent essays. The course consists of four units, each of which emphasizes a specific aspect of electronic information.

The first unit focuses on the various types of “information systems” currently used, introduces students to the different types of search engines used, as well as Internet databases. Additionally, course co-author Kay Johnson points out students “learn how to find books in library catalogues, including the AU Library catalogue.”

Unit two of INFS 200 builds on unit one’s background information as students examine types of search strategies available via electronic means. More specifically, this unit focuses on retrieving and searching for “journal articles using AU Library’s journal database,” indicates Johnson. The third unit explores strategies for “locating quality information on the web,” says Johnson. This includes techniques for selecting reputable websites, journal databases, and other electronic information sources. Unit four, explains Johnson, uses a different approach in that it “provides perspective on what all of this [the previous units] means.” Students have the opportunity to “think critically about the impact of the Internet on society,” especially focusing on current technological issues seen in today’s society.

Student evaluation in INFS 200 consists of four interesting assignments (each worth 15%) and one exam (worth 40%). “The first three assignments,” indicates Johnson, “are designed to prepare students to perform library research required to support an academic paper at the undergraduate level.” More specifically, students select a particular topic to research through the course’s duration and the first three assignments assess the student’s ability to “locate, evaluate, and reference information sources for this topic,” explains Johnson. However, the fourth assignment is different than the first three in that students “are expected to respond to two key pieces of writing” by “writing a short analysis of a book chapter, as well as a brief essay that describes and evaluates a second book chapter.”

Accessing Information (INFS 200)’s active online component is further enhanced by the INFS 200 Digital Reading Room. This “provides students with access to the two book chapters and to some supplementary resources that : enrich the course,” explains Johnson. Additionally, students can access “online materials and view animated search demos” as part of the course’s interactive hands-on component.

It’s never too late to sharpen your research skills to produce high quality essays. Visit the INFS 200 syllabus at: www.athabascau.ca/html/syllabi/infs200.htm.

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