Tech Thoughts: Why I don’t like my students using bibliography tools

Today I want to reflect on my strong feelings about NOT having students use Noodle Bib or Easy Bib or any other electronic tool for generating a works cited page. I prefer to have students create bibliographies based on a template as opposed to inserting information into a generator.

I believe these tools do not actually help students understand the how or the why of the citation. I’ve been reflecting on this after I recently realized I need to teach how to create a works cited page better after my AP Literature students turned in miserable versions of works cited for their Hamlet papers.  They were so bad overall, I required complete revisions for an all or nothing score–but they could turn it in until they earned complete credit.  Some of them turned in 8 versions before they got it right.  Some of them just gave up.  Some of them turned in a perfect version after just one try.  Only about five of them (out of 50) had it correct the very first time.

One of the biggest issues I saw was the students didn’t really understand what the generators were asking for, so they just filled in information in multiple spaces.  The other thing that drives me bonkers is the n.p., n.d.  Just leave those out!  Finally, students don’t double-check the generated results–they assume because it has been created by an online resource, it must be right.

As I sit here reflecting about this tool students use (incorrectly and without my blessing), I am not sure what the problem is.  Is it student inability to follow directions? Is it student apathy and lack of precision?  Is it my fault for not explicitly teaching them how to use these generators? (Because I don’t, I tell them to use the models online at Purdue OWL and tell them not to use these generators–but they do anyway.) I try to explain how/why citations and works cited are used, but students seem to zone out.

I’m not sure I have an answer, but I do think next year I’ll try to be more explicit about teaching citations to my students at the beginning of the year instead of just assuming they know how to do it.  Feel free to post any thoughts/comments/ideas about this topic.  I’d love to hear from other teachers about this.

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Posted by Kate, VP Secondary, PCTELA

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Tech Thoughts: Why I don’t like my students using bibliography tools

2 thoughts on “Tech Thoughts: Why I don’t like my students using bibliography tools

  1. Kate! I love what you have to say here. I’ve been noticing the same exact thing! Students struggle to FIND the missing information. I think it’s because they don’t know where to find it. I’ve revised my Works Cited lessons for next year as well. In fact, at the beginning of the research writing process I’ve added an assignment where they use their English 9 textbooks to find basic information (publisher, date of pub, editors, etc.). They simply don’t practice doing this because they’ve become so accustomed to those websites. – Jennie, PCTELA President, @jenniekaywrites

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