Module 6: Searching & Researching

Researching is an important part of college schoolwork. You will probably have to write research papers for several of your classes, regardless of your major. When you write a research paper, you will need to find credible sources and research that supports the argument you are trying to make.

For a source to be credible, it must have three things: (1) reliability, (2) quality, and (3) utility. A reliable source means one that is written by a qualified author, and published by an organization that has a good reputation in its field. Articles that are peer-reviewed can often be counted on to be credible, since a peer-reviewed article has been reviewed by experts in the field. A quality source is one that is impartial, does not make broad generalizations, and is up-to-date so that you know the information you’re reading is still applicable. Furthermore, any outside sources that are referenced in the article should be cited so that you and your readers can find them if they need to. Finally, the information in the article should have utility, meaning that it relates to the topic you are researching and provides adequate detail to support your argument.

Finding credible sources for your papers can seem daunting, but it is actually easy to find useful sources online if you know where and how to look. A good place to start would be your library’s online catalog, which can provide information about physical books, journals, or articles that you can read in your university library, as well as articles and other sources available to you online. Google Scholar is a tool that can be used to find credible academic sources. You can also get more useful search results by learning how to search more efficiently: using advanced searches either on Google or library catalogs can help narrow the results to more useful and relevant information. These types of searches allow you to limit your search by categories such as types of web pages (you may want to search only for government or educational websites, .gov or .edu) or publication date (recently-published articles are more up-to-date than those published several years ago, whose information may be outdated or irrelevant by now). Using these methods and knowing how to select credible sources will make your life much easier when working on research papers for your classes.

Module 5: Web-Enhanced Listening and Viewing Strategies

Online videos and podcasts are tools that can greatly enhance your learning. You can find informational videos and podcasts about millions of topics, virtually anything you might need or want to know! I have found videos to be especially helpful when a professor’s teaching style just doesn’t match with my learning style, or when I am having a particularly hard time grasping a topic or concept: I can look up a video on Youtube and find another perspective which can help me better understand the material.

When using online videos or podcasts as learning tools, it’s very important to be an active listener and take notes on it so that you actually pay attention to the material and retain the information. Note taking is important in all academic settings, but especially for online learning because it can be so easy to get distracted by other things on your computer and the internet. Using a note-taking template can help organize your notes and make it easier for you to review them later. The Cornell method is a useful note-taking strategy which divides your paper into separate sections so you can take notes on what the professor or lecturer says as well as your own thoughts, questions, and notes for other resources to use. Finding a note-taking strategy that works for you is essential to your success in college!

Educational Video: Criminology

This educational video gives an overview of the social science field of criminology, the study of crime, criminal behavior, and criminal justice systems and institutions. Criminology attempts to answer several central questions, such as why people commit crime and how it can be prevented. Criminology is a social science, and therefore is closely tied to major sociological theories which can be used to study crime and explain criminal behavior. The study of crime through the field of criminology can help understand the world we live in today, and helps both to prevent crime and create criminal justice policies.

This video is a great introduction to the study of criminology. It explains the underlying themes that the field focuses on and informs you of what you will likely be learning in a criminology course. The video utilizes animations and illustrations to capture your attention and keep the information more interesting than just listening to a lecture. It also asks you to think of real-world examples of crime that you’ve encountered in the news to show how relevant these topics are in today’s society.

Module 4: Online Reading and Studying

Reading and studying online can be different and more difficult than reading or studying from a textbook or notes that you have taken. The main reason that online reading and studying can be more difficult is because there are more readily available distractions if you’re using your computer than if you’re looking at a textbook. An easy way to avoid these distractions is to print out the article or website you are reading and then use this hard copy to read and study from, highlight, and take notes on. Personally, I find it easier to concentrate on reading when using a hard copy than when reading from a PDF online, even if I am not surfing the web or distracting myself in other ways online. Another easy way that you could avoid online distractions when trying to read online is to save the article you need to read and then disconnect your computer from the internet, this way you aren’t able to get on Facebook or other distracting websites.

If you are able to avoid online distractions, there are many very useful study tools available online, and a lot of them are free. Online flashcards are a great way to review material for your classes and they are also environmentally-friendly, since you can create hundreds of flashcards without wasting any paper! There are tons of websites you can use to create online flashcards, including Quizlet,, and even Google spreadsheets or Excel. Some of these websites have other features as well, like matching games or practice quizzes, which you can utilize as other ways to practice the information so you don’t get bored of the repetition of flashcards. Using a variety of these tools is the most effective way to learn because the different methods reinforce the material in new ways and can help you retain that information better, which will help you succeed on exams and in your classes.

Module 3: Online Communication

Online communication is an important part of a college education and something that you will utilize often during your time at school, especially if you are planning on taking some of your courses online instead of in-person. However, even if you do not take online classes and take them in a traditional classroom format, you will still use online communication often. Most professors at OSU use the Carmen website to organize and distribute information about the class, including syllabi, class notes, and study guides. Some classes even require students to post weekly discussion posts on the Carmen “discussion board” feature. Using effective communication skills is important for these discussion posts: they should be professional since you are not only interacting with peers, but with professors as well, and you should strive to make a good impression. This means using proper spelling and grammar and writing typically in a formal or business-like tone.

Some other online communication tools that you will probably use during college are email, Google Docs, and Doodle Polls. You will often need to email professors and other students, especially if you have group projects to work on. Doodle Polls are useful for scheduling a time when members of your group can get together to collaborate on your project. Since everyone at school is busy with different class, work, and extracurricular schedules, you will likely need to work on some aspects of group projects separately. Google Docs is a very useful tool for this since it allows everyone to access the same document, PowerPoint presentation, or Excel spreadsheet from their own computer. This will streamline the process of working on projects separately and prevent you from having to email your project back and forth and constantly update with other members’ changes. I have used Google Docs a lot throughout my time at OSU and it has been one of the most helpful online communication tools that I’ve had access to.