Thursday, March 26, 2009

Had an interesting reminder this morning about how folks understand databases and how they're compiled and used.
A returning student came in to do research for a writ 121 assignment... writing about the negative aspects of joint custody and in particular, fathers' rights. Clearly, this was an emotionally charged topic for our student... I got the whole story about the ex-wife, the son, the doctors and teachers "only listen to her."
We searched through Opposing Viewpoints and General OneFile to try to find articles.... only he didn't want articles. He wanted legal materials. I explained to the student that these databases will have articles ABOUT those issues but aren't the legal papers themselves.
That's when he got really mad.
He went on, rather loudly (not dangerously loud or anything, just angry) about how the courts are hearing reports from fathers all the time but "they don't care and that's why there's nothing in these databases!" Again, I explained that database usage takes time and patience and not everything is in every database.. that's why we looked in two different ones.
He left. His buddy was trying to direct him to the legal aide office as they walked out...


  1. I think I may have worked with this same student before... It is really hard to get across the idea of what each database actually contains. I am always surprised when students, for example, try to find information about Potter Park Zoo in a database like General OneFile. But if you are used to Google, where you will find a bit of everything, the idea of specialized databases can be hard to grasp.

  2. hmmm . . . I'm wondering if this student will be with us during Summer Session or next Fall, and if he will be enrolled in WRIT 122. I mention that because if he takes 122, he may use this topic for an arguementative essay. IF he uses this topic for a 122 essay, I'm afraid that (based on Rachel's encounter) this man's emotions will get in the way of showing concession or explaining BOTH sides of the issue.