Skip to Main Content

Individual Development in the Classroom (XEDU 10003 )


  1. Objectives
  2. How do I develop an inquiry question?
  3. How do I recognize scholarly articles?
  4. How do I find resources?
  5. How do I make my searching more effective?
  6. Summary & closing


By the end of class, you will be able to:

  1. Find the XEDU 10003 library course guide for this class
  2. Identify strategies to improve an inquiry question
  3. Improve search effectiveness
  4. Find a scholarly article using MRU LibrarySearch
  5. Find a scholarly article using a recommended database using the EDUC subject guide

Key Assignment Details

  1. 6-7 pages (2400-2800)
  2. Minimum three (3) scholarly references within the last 10 years
    • Can be scholarly articles, book chapters, books
    • Can include more than three scholarly references
  3. Citation style: APA 7th
  4. Maximum 2, two-sentence quotes
    • paraphrase or summarize

Your Inquiry question:

  • Thinking critically, creatively, ethically, productively, and reflectively about essential ideas in a discipline
  • Reasonable and possible to research: Do angels exist? vs Why do people believe in angels? 
  • Comes from genuine curiosity and confusion about the world
  • Arguable, with multiple plausible answers
  • Demands evidence and reasoning because varying answers exist
  • Doesn't make assumptions or is not a leading question: Why do we only use 10% of our brains? vs What are some effective brain-based learning strategies?
  • Clear - you've defined all of the terms in your question
  • Leads to more good questions

Important:  Good inquiry questions will most likely require more than one draft. 

Some examples:

Good: How do good readers use strategies to understand text?
BetterWhich strategy should I use when I don't understand what I'm reading?

Good: What is proper punctuation, and why is it important?
Better: When is proper punctuation mandatory, and when is it optional?

Good: Why is World War I important?
Better: How important was World War I in shaping the modern world?

Start with a preliminary search. Consider news sources, encyclopedia articles or magazine articles to determine your interests. Revise your question and your search strategy.

Ways to Narrow Your Inquiry Question

  • Place (geography, location, setting, etc.)

  • Population (Age, demographic, etc.)

  • Timeframe (year, decade, etc.)

  • Relevant issue or challenge (eg. difficulty finding work, learning disability, etc.)

  • Correlation or causation (implies previous understanding)

    • Eg. Why do employers employ fewer computer science graduates?

    • Eg. What is the impact of _______ on _______ ?

How does online learning via video conferencing affect elementary students’ social development in the classroom?

  1. Online learning
    • Remote learning / distance learning
  2. Video conferencing: 
    • Zoom / Virtual classrooms
  3. Elementary students: 
    • K-6 / K-12, Grade school
  4. Social development
    • Social connections / Making friends / Social bonding / Social skills
  5. Classroom
    • Physical classes / Virtual classroom / Campus / School

Strengths: short, contains background information on a topic, normally a great starting point when you are just learning about a topic
Weaknesses: too short, print encyclopedias are out of date quickly, Wikipedia has reliability issues

Books and Book Chapters
Strengths: Provides an in-depth investigation into a topic
Weaknesses: too long, sometimes hard to tell whether it is scholarly

Scholarly Journal Articles
Strengths: often based on research findings or extensive review, written by experts, reviewed by experts, provides evidence
Weaknesses: Sometimes written using discipline-specific language or terminology, hard to understand,

Media Sources (news, online magazine articles)
Strengths: Good for current information
Weaknesses: Sometimes biased, sometimes written to entertain, often not written by experts

Websites & Social Media
Strengths: Highly accessible, includes government info
Weaknesses: It is hard to assess credibility and reliability...anyone can post online or create a website

Scholarly Articles

  • Often referred to as academic, peer-reviewed, or refereed 
  • Written by experts in a particular field
  • Keep others interested in that field up to date on the most recent research and findings. 

What is peer-review?

  • When a source has been peer-reviewed it has undergone the review and scrutiny of a review board of colleagues in the author's field.  They evaluate this source as part of the body of research for a particular discipline and make recommendations regarding its publication in a journal, revisions prior to publication, or, in some cases, reject its publication.

General Characteristics

  1. Author: Expert in the field
  2. Review: Reviewed by other experts (peers)
  3. Audience / Language: Written for scholars and students; uses academic language
  4. Content: Original research and criticism; uses previous research literature for background
  5. Citations: Always

Quality refers to how trustworthy and reputable your source is.

  1. Purpose: Consider the purpose of the source.  Why did the authors write it and how do you know that?
    • Is it fact or opinion?  Is there bias?  (Does the source favour one thing over another in an unfair way (sometimes referred to as one-sided)?
  2. Audience:  Consider the audience of the source.  Who did the authors write it for and how do you know that?
  3. Authority: Consider who wrote the source and who is responsible for the source.  Are the authors experts on the topic and how do you know that?  Who is responsible for this information - a company, a government, a university, personal?  How do you know that?
  4. Currency: Consider when the source was published or written.  How recently was it written and how do you know that?
  5. Reliability: Consider the information from the source.  Does your source provide details about where they got their information - such as references?
  6. Relevance: What does it have to do with my topic?

Finding Sources

Start with the Education Subject Guide

  • Background Resources (encyclopedias, handbooks, dictionaries)
  • Books
  • Articles
    • General databases
    • Subject-specific databases

Less is More: Start with one or two words and then add one additional term at a time

  • teaching
  • teaching portfolio

Phrase searching: Use "quotation marks" around key ideas made up of multiple words

  • "teaching portfolio"
  • very useful when you have a specific phrase containing common words

Truncation: Use an asterisk * to find different endings to your keywords

  • teach* = teach, teacher, teachers, teaching, teaches
  • organi* = organization, organisation, organic, organics

Use limits: These refine (narrow) your search using different restrictions

  • Date (last 10 years)
  • Peer-reviewed (for articles)

Boolean:  OR / AND / NOT

  • use OR for spelling (organization OR organisation) and words with similar meanings to reduce your # of searches
  • use AND to combine words and phrases (this is usually the default when searching)
  • use NOT to exclude a word or phrase (be careful when eliminating something from a search - it's easy to exclude too much)

Useful Guides and Resources

From Mount Royal University:

Tips for Reading Scholarly Articles*

Check for relevance – is the article useful for what you’re doing? You will likely never find the perfect article that’s exactly on the topic you have in mind – but you will find ones that are close and useful because:

  • They provide background or context
  • They provide theories that help you examine/understand a new situation
  • They look at a similar group of people
  • They look at similar situations
  • They use methods that you could use to answer similar questions
  • They apply techniques that could be useful in your situation
  • They have useful bibliographies that direct you to even better materials

Print out the article –studies show that reading in print is better for comprehension and retention.

Skim to get the general idea – review introduction, headings, conclusion to see if the article will suit your needs

Get comfortable and carve out a little time – reading for depth takes focus and practice, and you’ll probably have to read the article more than once

Read with a pen in your hand – mark up interesting points, points, odd words, circle key concepts

Read the article by having a dialogue with the author – “really?” “prove it!” “are you sure about that?”- constantly question the author(s)

Practice slow reading – mostly we don’t read, we skim - summarize paragraphs as you go, read the article aloud to slow down

Note unfamiliar words and concepts – look them up on your second read through

Make connections as you go – note what the article reminds you of, what thoughts it provokes, how it matches or contradicts your experience – these connections are critical to your understanding of texts.

Draw things out –stats, tables, connections or relationships can make more sense if you diagram them

Consider approaches and limitations– if you started with the same question(s) as the author – how would you approach finding the answers?  What’s missing from the article – what questions does it leave you with?

Discuss the article with others – students identified this as a very useful strategy for getting the most from articles

*Adapted by Madelaine Vanderwerff from handouts by J. M Loyer &M. MacMillan


Profile Photo
Library Systems
Room G206