Teaching Students to Use Electronic Databases



Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Student learning outcomes, as articulated in the Undergraduate Psychology Major Learning Goals and Outcomes (American Psychological Association [APA], 2002), explicitly state that students should be able to: "Locate and use relevant databases, research, and theory to plan, conduct, and interpret results of research studies." In order for students to develop these skills fully, faculty should help students to become critical consumers of information. Information-literate students should be able to, "recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information" (Association of College & Research Libraries [ACRL], 2000). ACRL further explicated outcomes related to information literacy that include: (a) developing a research plan, (b) identifying keywords and related terms, (c) carefully selecting terms relative to the database, and (d) using appropriate commands (e.g., Boolean operators, truncation, and proximity for search engines; internal organizers such as indexes for books). Merriam, LaBaugh, and Butterfield (1992) proposed minimum training guidelines for instructing psychology students on library skills. In this chapter, we will provide faculty with recommendations and resources for teaching students how to develop skills in information literacy related to psychology.