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Cultural Artifact
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Library Workshop Outline - Cultural Artifact - General

I use this outline as a starting point for classes that come into the library during the Cultural Artifact assignment. The focus is developing a researchable question, then translating that question into a search strategy. The structure may vary depending on the specifics of a given assignment.

Tour - 30 minutes

(optional - can expand searching instead)

 Question Development  - 30 minutes

Emphasize that students can follow this process for their own artifact.

Bring an easily-recognizable artifact to class, or project a picture. In the past I’ve used the rubik’s cube, a whiteboard, or a lego.

  1. Students spend 2 minutes writing down as many questions as they can think of about the artifact (try to get 10)
  1. Encourage questions to address use, meaning and value of the artifact
  1. Students go around the room and each read a question, trying not to duplicate one that has already been said (ask a student to record questions on a Word doc)
  2. Using the questions listed, discuss the difference between open-ended and closed questions. In general open-ended questions make better research questions because there is no single/discreet answer, and reasonable people might disagree given the evidence. (tie this into the assignment, which asks students to consider the meaning of artifact within a specific culture)
  1. Example open question: How do we reduce traffic fatalities in Michigan
  2. Example closed question: How many traffic accidents were there last year in Michigan?

Keyword Brainstorming - 10 minutes

Choose a question to use as an example

  1. Highlight key concepts from the question (usually nouns)
  2. Discuss synonyms, related concepts, narrower or broader terms
  3. I often introduce the concept of search bias here briefly. Search bias is the idea that if you search for positive information about something (i.e. fat is good for you), you are going to find different information than if you search for the negative (fat is bad for you). We discuss choosing neutral terms, or at least considering the effect of search terms.

Search Demo - 10 minutes

 Demonstrate doing a search using some of the key terms. I use the library’s Article Search.

Search time - 30 minutes

Students can search for their own artifact, or can use the one discussed in class. Circulate to help students who are having trouble translating their own artifact into a viable search strategy (this can be tough!)

 If there’s time, have students each choose an article, then discuss the following questions

Created by Emilia Marcyk. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License