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MAN-LEC100: Success in Mathematics   Tags: uw-manitowoc  

Last Updated: May 28, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Welcome to the research guide for "LEC100:  Succeed in Mathematics" at UW-Manitowoc.   This guide will introduce you to a process of finding information that you can apply to any other academic (or even personal) subject.  There's one main point to keep in mind as you work through this and other library research projects:  librarians are here to help you find what you need, so don't be shy--ask!  The library chat reference box at the right side of the page is a good way to find help when I'm not available.   


Library research as problem solving

Your library instructional session will focus on library research as a form of problem solving that follows steps similar to those used in mathematics.  See the table to the right for a comparison. 


Information literacy as problem solving

Is there a connection between skill in mathematics and skill in information literacy?  Maybe so.  Problem solving skills used for library research are similar to those used in mathematics. Both require examining problems, drawing out known information, and identifying appropriate strategies. 

The model below is derived from George Polya's four-step-method for solving math problems and the Association of College and Research Libraries Information Literacy Standards.

Mathematics Information Literacy

Understand the problem

  • Read the problem carefully
  • What information is given?
  • What do you need to find out?

Understand the problem

  • Develop a research question
  • Identify keywords from the question
  • What do you want to find? 
    • Books?
    • Scholarly research articles?
    • Editorials?
    • Images?

Devise a plan

  • Identify a strategy to help solve the problem

Devise a plan

  • Identify a strategy to use to find information
    • Match your strategy to your subject area
    • Match the strategy to the materials you want to find

Carry out the plan

  • Use the strategy you identified
  • If this strategy doesn't work, select another

Carry out the plan

  • Use keywords to conduct a search
  • Look at your results and revise search, using new keywords or making use of interface features

Check the answer

  • Does it make sense? 
  • Solve the problem using another strategy.  Is the answer the same? 

Check the answer

  • Do your results provide information that will answer your research question?
  • Revise your strategy to find different or more or more relevant results
  • Continue until you are satisfied with what you have found

UW-Manitowoc librarian

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Peggy Turnbull
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