Teaching students how to use references: a speaker and a ‘toolkit’ by Dr Kim Shahabudin, Helen Hathaway, Clare Nukui, Dr Liz Wilding

On Wed 5 June, rather too many people crammed into rather too warm a room to hear about where we are going wrong when teaching students about referencing practices – and a suite of teaching materials that will hopefully help us avoid such pitfalls.

Our speaker was Diane Schmitt, Senior Lecturer in EFL/TESOL at Nottingham Trent University, whose topic was Adding ‘purpose’ to instruction on the use of sources, referencing and ‘avoiding plagiarism’. Diane argued that we need to refocus on the fact that the absence of plagiarism is not equivalent to good writing. We should instead move towards a ‘pedagogy for using sources’, teaching students how, why and when to use sources in their discipline. An especially useful ‘takeaway’ message proposed encouraging students to take a staged approach to reading, starting with a short introductory text that outlined the main issues and topics before moving on to in-depth research in second-level sources which could be used to support their academic writing.  Bringing reading into the classroom can help to support ‘reading to learn’ as well as building knowledge and the comprehension of arguments.

The session also saw the launch of the Academic Integrity Toolkit, a suite of teaching materials on the practices students need to get right to avoid plagiarism. These were developed as part of a TLDF-funded project, ‘What did I do wrong?’ Supporting independent learning practices to avoid plagiarism, which brought together investigators from Study Advice, the Library and the ISLC. With brief handouts and exercise sheets, PowerPoint slides and links to screencasts, the Toolkit aims to facilitate guidance on effective study within subject teaching and in feedback to individual students. Topics include taking useful notes, citing unusual sources and writing paraphrases. The full toolkit is on Blackboard (search the Organisation Catalog for ‘Academic Integrity Toolkit’ – you can self-enrol) where slides and handout from Diane’s talk can also be found. Contact any member of the team directly for more information.