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Abstract

Solange Simões and Suzanne Gray’s work is a collaborative in every sense of the word – a sociologist with a joint appointment in women’s and gender studies has collaborated with a faculty librarian to study how students learn to write better papers, and engage more deeply with the course material, in an introductory women’s and gender studies class. Students engaged in academic service-learning and in exercises intended to improve their information literacy skills as part of the class. Solange and Suzanne explore whether these activities helped students develop stronger ideas for term papers and do a better job using appropriate sources, and using them skillfully, in the term paper. As they note at the beginning of their chapter, Solange and Suzanne face a particular challenge in this class; the topics they study, such as reproductive rights, sexual assault, and eating disorders, are ones in which students may have, or know someone who has had, personal experiences. While these experiences may make it easier for students to relate to the topic, they also run the risk that students will be unable to leave the world of anecdote and engage in more scholarly reflection and analysis of these issues. Thus, it is particularly heartening to see Solange and Suzanne bring forth multiple sources of evidence to demonstrate that what they did in the class helps students emerge as more capable scholars. By the end of the course, students have learned skills for managing information, and for relating what they observe to what they study in an effort to triangulate from different sources and become better creators and consumers of knowledge.

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