Specialized Dictionaries and Specialized Encyclopedias

Assignment: Investigate definitions of words or unfamiliar allusions using specialized dictionaries and specialized encyclopedias; report back to the class, and for writing purposes, submit a paragraph about discoveries.

How to: To find specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias in the library, use the SouthCat catalog; using a Keyword search; type dictionar? psychology or encyclopedia? engineering; [substitute your own discipline] then set "Limits" to "University Library Reference").

Support: Offer students a list of unusual words or allusions used by experts. Or have a student select a term used in class that day.

Use: You may wish to assign a term to a different student each class day to avoid "sharing," and, for large classes, to avoid a run on one particular item in the library--often with the unanticipated consequence of loss or mutilation.

You may wish to have them use Wikipedia for the same topic to encourage critical thinking about published versus public sources. Have them read the "Discussion" section of the article in Wikipedia to show them the behind-the-scenes debate on the facts and the presentation of the information in Wikipedia.

graphic of an arrow to discussion tab in Wikipedia

Objective: Begin to become familiar with the jargon in a field as well as the library reference sources available to them. For Wikipedia: to gain an understanding of the problems inherent in constructing a "public" encyclopedia, open to opinions and ideologies of mostly amateur contributors.