With the ever-expanding sea of resources available to students today, it is now more important than ever to teach students how to navigate, assess, and interpret resources. Given the ease of access to information, students tend to seek out the path of least resistance, most often a Google search and/or Wikipedia. Their unfamiliarity with print resources, such as thematic catalogues, means they are missing out on significant music scholarship that is not available online or through Google. Today’s students have grown up searching the internet. The single-search approach of a web search leaves many students confused by terms like online catalogues, databases, and indexes, and the concepts required to navigate music libraries and electronic resources are foreign to them.
As a music librarian and musicologist, introducing students to appropriate resources is a key component of my teaching in both my own courses and library instruction sessions. Getting students engaged in, and hopefully excited about, the research process must come first. Otherwise, teaching resources becomes a show-and-tell exercise followed by a paint-by-the-numbers assignment. Using experiential learning activities and exercises shows students what resources are out there, how to find useful resources, and how to assess what they find. Students are taught how to explore their intellectual curiosity, engage in research, and ask questions that require scholarly resources to answer them effectively. This article will explore ways to introduce research materials into the classroom as well as the opportunities research-based assignments provide for learning and student engagement.