The other day while looking for something on the leaning tower of books behind my desk I was struck by a falling book, Charles A D’Aniello. Teaching Bibliographic Skills in History: A Sourcebook for Historians and Librarians, (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1993).
I have learned to take the falling of books on my head as a sign and a wonder, like a message from above. So I revisited this work again.
On page 79 D’Aniello tells us that having students answer a series of questions using works listed in an assigned bibliography may be interesting for the student, but it may be more effective to have them compare and contrast two similar works as this adds a critical thinking component to the question. For example: take a look at Val Greenwood’s Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy and The Source, A Guidebook of American Genealogy . Each has a section on the probate process. D’Aniello is suggesting that we not only ask the student to find those two entries, but we ask them to compare and contrast what each says about the process. Thus the student learns which of the two is the better source for this information.
Then, of course this brings up the whole issue of whether we want to give students assignments that we need to mark. We’ll return to that topic later.
What are your thoughts?