One quest to teach them all: Use of analogy to engage students

A major obstacle in teaching research methods is helping students to understand the difference between research at the university and high school levels. Librarians at CSUSM use a version of Kuhlthau's Information Search Process [ISP] (2004) to "demystify" the research process. However, this abstract model gives the impression that research follows a linear path; this may cause students to become frustrated when they begin researching on their own and find the process to be anything but linear. Keer emphasizes the importance of "culturally relevant" instruction to engage students in constructing their own knowledge (2009). By using the analogy of a "quest" (e.g. Harry Potter, Legend of Zelda, Monty Python and the Holy Grail), the STEM Librarian at CSUSM worked with disciplinary faculty in the Physics and Communication departments to illustrate the meandering and continual process that is research. More abstractly, the use of analogy can provide students with a mental model of the information search process, which in turn can facilitate the development of research skills.