The Psychology Online Research Tutorial (PORT) is comprised of a series of short modules designed to teach the basics of searching the research literature in psychology, including finding articles, journals, and other periodicals. The site includes interactive tutorials, short quizzes, and scoring. PORT was created by university librarians at Georgia State University.
Type of Material:
This website is an online introductory tutorial on the research process in Psychology.
This site would be an excellent introduction or supplement to a research course. The tutorials on this site could be used to illustrate literature search concepts in class or as a reference or assignment for students outside of class.
This tutorial requires the Flash player.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
After completing the tutorials on this website, students should know more about selecting a research topic, distinguishing a scholarly journal from a popular magazine, using PsycINFO, and extracting the information from a journal article needed to write an APA-style reference. The site is also designed to introduce students to research methodology in databases as well as Boolean operators that narrow or broaden searches.
Target Student Population:
This site would be most advantageous to undergraduate psychology majors in classes where a literature review paper is required. The site might also benefit high school students in preparation for college courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
There are no prerequisite knowledge or skills needed.
The content seems to be of high quality. The site has been accepted into the Association of College & Research Libraries Instruction Sections prestigious Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online (PRIMO) project. Some particularly impressive parts of the site are the excellent tutorials for (1) distinguishing a popular magazine from a scholarly journal (using Psychology Today as the magazine which students so often confuse with a journal), and (2) searching in PsycINFO (including an explanation of Boolean searching). The instructional information is combined with short quizzes and scoring that provides immediate feedback.
The material provided is basically introductory. The site is probably more impressive from a library standpoint than a psychology one. For example, the tutorial on how to write an APA citation, and how to find the info to put in the citation from the PsycINFO page, is a good one; however, the citation is done incorrectly.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The tutorials would be effective as an introduction to a high school or college research course. The site is clearly organized to serve as an effective teaching tool. Each module begins with a set of learning objectives; each set of learning objectives is followed by an interactive tutorial. Printable handouts are available on each topic. Quizzes at the end of each module are helpful for students to test themselves and make sure they have learned the material.
The information provided is a basic introduction to research, primarily conducting a literature review. Those expecting or wanting a more-detailed overview of the research process will need to look elsewhere. Unfortunately the instructions for how to search PsycINFO are tied to the Georgia State system (with some transferable info, e.g., how to limit a search). Also specific to this system are the topics Locating a Journal Article, Locating a Journal in the Library, Passwords, and Off-campus Access. If students are sent to this site, they will need to know which pages to avoid or how to adapt the information to their own campus library system.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The homepage is attractively designed with clear, obvious, and well-organized navigational links. Instructions are given at the beginning of each topic on how to use the tutorial. All parts of the site (e.g., links, quizzes) worked as they were designed to work.
The fact that so much of the site is unique to the Georgia State University system means that students would either be very confused by much of the site or would need a great deal of explanation before using it (unless, of course, they are Georgia State students).
Other Issues and Comments:
This is really an attractive and potentially useful site for psychology students who need to choose a paper topic, search for articles on that topic, and write a reference page based on those articles. Some of the tutorials are truly excellent. Unfortunately, because the instructions for library use are specific to Georgia State University, where the tutorial was created, students at other universities will be limited in what they can learn from the site.
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