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Tutor profile: Kate W.

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Kate W.
11+ Years Experienced Academic Librarian
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Questions

Subject: Library and Information Science

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Question:

Describe the differences between a controlled vocabulary search and a keyword search. Provide an example of a situation where it would be the most efficient or effective choice for each type of search.

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Kate W.
Answer:

A controlled vocabulary search only searches the subject or decriptor field in a database record. This type of search is much more specifc than a keyword search and helps you quickly narrow down results, espcially when a keyword search is too broad. An example of a situtation where a controlled vocabulary search is more effective would be if you were looking for side effects of a specific drug. Searching for "side effects" and "drug name" would limit the results significantly. A keyword search searches all field in a database record. This is a much broader search and is useful when you are beginning a search. You can do broader keyword searches to find examples of controlled vocabulary that are related to your topic. Keyword searches help you explore what is out there and get a better idea how to narrow your next search down.

Subject: European History

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Question:

Describe the relationship between mechanical clocks and the economic growth and development of a society.

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Kate W.
Answer:

The development of mechanical clocks allows for the precise measurement of time, which is crucial to many business functions. The precise measurement of time allows financial markets to synchoronize, production processes to be timed and monitored for maximum efficiency, the efficient scheduling of the labor force, and coordinating business meetings and exchanges. Public mechanical clocks allow the population to know the time and structure their day accordingly without neccessarly being literate--the use of bells and chimes can indicate the passage of time--and standardizes the work day for everyone. Without the development of mechanical clocks, the industrial revolution would not have occured as businesses would not have been able to operate efficiently, improve production times, or accurately record workers' time.

Subject: Education

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Question:

How did Social Darwinism contribute to the institutionalization of racism in the American education system?

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Kate W.
Answer:

In the late 19th and early to mid 20th century, a new theory, Social Darwinism, emerged that would be used to justify laissez-faire capitalism, as well as imperialist, colonialist, and racist policies (“Social Darwinism,” 2014). It also influenced the policies of the American educational system: “Social Darwinism provided the early scientific justification for offering children different kinds of educational experiences” (Lewis & Diamond, 2015, p. 174). Social Darwinism, a theory that extends the theoretical writings of Charles Darwin regarding the laws of natural selection in plants and animals to racial and ethnic groups, proposed that differences between individuals were due to natural inequalities and discouraged intervention via the state (i.e. societal reform). Through the lens of this theory, wealth was viewed as proof of superior genetics and it was thought that the poor should not be helped or encouraged; rather, their genetic line should die off order to improve society as a whole. Social Darwinists believed that children of particular social, racial and ethnic groups were naturally predisposed to certain types of work based on genetic inequities. This belief led to the creation of track systems in American high schools: “By about 1920 an integral aspect of comprehensive high schools became the separation of students within them for different kinds of instruction” (Qtd in Lewis & Diamond, 2015, p. 174). As children were sorted based on their “abilities,” certain racial and ethnic groups were consistently placed in vocational tracks, which reinforced the theory of Social Darwinism. This perpetuated the idea that career and technical education was suited to those students with lower IQs or weaker academic skills. Students of minority racial and ethnic groups also began to be automatically tracked into career and technical education tracks no matter their actual skill and ability levels. Our society may no longer openly promote Social Darwinism, but aspects of it can still be seen in practice: “Tracking is and has always been deeply racialized. The mechanisms that distribute students to different course levels may have shifted over time, but the structure itself has always had stratifying effects” (Lewis & Diamond, 2015, p. 176). Due to technical and career education’s long-standing ties the education of minority groups, many people mistakenly see it as the only option for those groups. What started out as a necessary educational and occupational experience for all members of society has, for some people, become a social, economic, or racial marker.

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