Monday, November 3, 2008

High school students learn college researching skills

Like many high school seniors this year McClintock students Sharri Hudson Kiara Hamed and Alex Chandler are required to do library research for a number of English papers they are required to write.

But the three students are getting more mileage than most from their high school experience. They are getting a double whammy; gaining both high school and college level writing and research skills at the same time.

And not only are they learning additional skills they’re racking up college credit under Rio Salado College’s dual enrollment program.

This year more than 6,000 students around the valley will participate in the program that allow students to take college level classes while still in high school simultaneously earning high school and college credits. Dual enrollment classes are available in English, math, science, foreign language and social studies.

Some students are able to graduate with enough college credits to skip a year of college. Some do even better graduating with an associate degree and a high school diploma saving both time and money.

Last week Rio Salado College librarian Janelle Underhill was on the McClintock High School campus teaching students how to use the online college library including how to navigate through dozens of databases, e-books, and other resources available for their use.

“We have found it very helpful for our dual enrollment students,” said Underhill who visits almost all of Rio Salado’s dual enrollment English 101 classes.

“The more students work with the library’s databases, the better prepared they will be when they head off to a university in a year or two,” Underhill said.

Along with the advanced research skills students using a college library are also exposed to dozens of additional resources.

While most high school libraries have 4 or 5 databases, Rio Salado College has more than 40 databases and a university may have as many as 200 or more, Underhill tells students.
Besides the in-person demonstration of the college’s library resources, students may also request a CD which reviews basic research skills and gives information about the Rio Salado’s library. Another form of free assistance is Ask a Librarian chat service which is available 24/7 for students with questions or problems. Ask a Librarian chat is District-wide cooperative that includes all 10 Maricopa Community Colleges.

As part of Underhill’s library presentation students are shown how to find articles in online magazines, scholarly journals, newspapers and reference databases. As dual enrollment students, they may also check out books from any of the 10 MCCCD Libraries and have online access to thousands of ebooks. Finally, in the sessions students are encouraged to explore helpful links on the library’s website such as Rio’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), citation examples, tutorials and evaluation criteria, while writing class assignments for their English 101 class.
McClintock High School dual enrollment teacher Adam Unrein is a fan of teaching college level skills to high school students.

“It’s a great for our students. The resources available are vast compared to what we have in our high school. It’s the perfect stepping stone for students. Not overwhelming just right,” Unrein said.

Hamed says she’s glad she had the chance to learn college skills in high school.
“I think it’s good so we won’t be confused later when we won’t have any of these people around to help us,” Hamed said.

Rio Salado College is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. The college offers degrees and career and technical certificates in business, computer technology, early childhood and teacher education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to