Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Afternoon Musing

Damn. I was really hoping to get up early this morning and go for a run but that did not happen! But ... I did manage to get up twice this week at 5 AM so I guess that is an improvement! This has been a busy week -- but don't I say that all the time? I am doing this new little activity in my research classes (in an effort to make the research projects better and more exciting/ interesting for the students) but it requires me to do a ton more work. In a nutshell, there is always a constant flow of papers between me and the students -- so I can help them stay on track and nip any problems in the bud ASAP. Here is an example of just one of the exercises the ENG 102 students have done in the last couple of days: students always tell me that they know how to Google, how to search the internet for information (stuff outside of the academic electronic databases). But I don't think this is always true. So students had to use a search engine to find relevant information for their ongoing projects. If they couldn't find anything, they had to tell me what search terms they had used. As I am looking through their responses yesterday, I discovered exactly what I suspected. Most of them said there was nothing on the internet. And I find it's usually the search terms that are to blame!

For example, one student was looking for information on the families of drunk drivers. She is doing research on being the wife of someone arrested for a DUI and how the media/news/etc never talks about the problems that her family is now having (financial, etc) as a result of her husband's DUI (which she doesn't excuse at all). She searched all over the internet and found nothing. And of course she is going to have trouble using search terms like "DUI" and "victim" and "affect." But if she had used a search phrase like "drunk driver's family" (both with and without the quotation marks) there is a bunch of stuff related to her topic! So that is what I am trying to teach these "young" folks -- how to play with search terms and find information.

I have about 60 students in three ENG 102 classes so it took me awhile to go through their projects and then help the ones who were struggling with the search terms they were using. As you might imagine, that took awhile. But I needed to get these back to my students today (they just gave them to me on Wed) so I can continue the flow of dialog between us -- and they can work on the next piece of the puzzle (using the electronic databases via the SWIC Library to do the same thing).

No huge plans for the weekend but I do have my last outdoor triathlon of the season on Sunday (over at the St Peter's Rec Plex). We swim inside (and I will be curious to see if my swimming lessons will help me!) and then bike about 22 miles outside and then about 5 miles of running (also outside). I did this same exact course last fall so I will be curious to see if my time is faster (esp. with the new bike). The good part is that I signed up months ago so I have a great start time -- about 16 minutes after the official green light starts. I've done this this event before and been one of the last folks in the water and then, by the time I go across the finish line, everyone is gone. If I work hard during the race, I should finish with folks still milling about! And I just hope to the great spirit in the sky that it is NOT raining! The last race I did (about 2-3 weeks ago) was a soggy mess and I want to really try and push my bike (which I don't feel comfortable doing since I am terrified that I am going to slip!).

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