Catching the Tail of a Story: Learning from Literary and Philosophical Sources as Guides for Independent Research

31 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2013 Last revised: 13 Feb 2013

See all articles by Bruce Pencek

Bruce Pencek

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Scott Nelson

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Date Written: February 9, 2013

Abstract

It is conventional to tell students to begin their research with background sources, typically reference books. We -- a professor and his subject librarian -- argue that useful background knowledge is much deeper than books (to say nothing of Wikipedia). It is rooted in experience of the world and, as it were, immanent, which researchers can then bring into their experience of formal, published knowledge. Incorporating qualitative assessment exercises as instructional moments, we repeatedly induce advanced undergraduates to foreground their deep background, to contrast it with published knowledge, and to identify and provisionally explain the gaps between them. “Finding the story” is our way for students to think about how that gap might be charted and how their own research explorations can fruitfully fill the gaps they perceive intellectually and affectively. In this paper we examine some literary and philosophical sources for clues as to how our story trope works, not only in our students, but also how “finding the story” works in thinkers we wish our students to appreciate. We conclude with an application of the story trope as part of a pedagogy of potentialities and beginnings carries onward toward the completion of student research.

Keywords: research skills, information literacy, internet searching, international studies

Suggested Citation

Pencek, Bruce and Nelson, Scott, Catching the Tail of a Story: Learning from Literary and Philosophical Sources as Guides for Independent Research (February 9, 2013). APSA 2013 Teaching and Learning Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2211252 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2211252

Bruce Pencek (Contact Author)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University ( email )

University Libraries
PO Box 90001
Blacksburg, VA 24062-9001
United States

Scott Nelson

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University ( email )

250 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States

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