BEAM Me Up: Source Use and Synthesis

Submitted by Ashley Roach-Freiman on June 7th, 2019
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Short Description: 

BEAM Me Up is a one-shot session that works well in addition to a search strategies class, but can be done without. This session asks students to use the BEAM framework coined by Joseph Bizup to organize and synthesize research materials to create a complex and well-supported argument. Rather than evaluated sources using a checklist, the instructor using BEAM asks students to consider how the information will be used (and to consider how authors use information to build arguments). Adaptors may want to replace the sources given here with ones relevant to the students' curriculum. Our students are asked to create an argument that considers the city they live in, i.e. Memphis. I chose Stax Records because of its rich history locally and nationally, and because of its importance to the civil rights movement. I wanted to use a topic the students would find interesting and chose a variety of source types that I hoped would engage them both personally and intellectually. With credit to Brannen Varner, Michael Harris, and Joel Roberts.

Learning Outcomes: 

- Assess the utility of several pre-selected sources by reading the source and sorting it into one or more categories of BEAM - Defend their choice given a pre-defined research topic - Discuss how the given sources support (or do not support) one another in a means conducive to creating an argument using the BEAM framework

Individual or Group: 
Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

Our instruction department has a long relationship with the First Year Writing program doing one-shots for a class that teaches argumentation and rhetoric.
Two years ago, their curriculum changed, requiring the instructors and students to focus on the city of Memphis. Students have to write their final paper about Memphis in some respect - topics include music, food, crime, urban development, etc. Because these students are facing their first real research project of college, they are among our most frequent patrons, and we wanted to give them a curriculum that addressed their needs directly and provided context for reading that they may not have encountered before. This session is offered in conjunction with a related session on searching databases, and alongside a comprehensive libguide as well as a suite of interactive tutorials.

Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 

Don't be prescriptive! Allow students to come to their own conclusions.

Suggested Citation: 
Roach-Freiman, Ashley. "BEAM Me Up: Source Use and Synthesis." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2019.