Learning Resources

This page is about mentorship - which is the idea that, in addition to being taught course content, that students should find mentors who can guide them to other useful knowledge.

Libraries: Being able to find, evaluate and use reliable sources of information is an essential part of what you learn at university. The internet is simply one huge digital library of information. These days, we say that we are data-rich but knowledge-poor. We'd like you to learn how to deal with the data deluge.

You'll often hear people talking about how university students need to learn "critical" skills. What does that mean? Very simply, it means that you need to be able to answer the questions "who, what, where, when, why?" about stuff that you read.

The York University library is your first stop for talking with experts on finding and assessing information. Anywhere you go in your travels, the first thing you should do is find the library - it could public, university, or private. It is where information is located, and even in the internet age, is explained.

Funnily enough, reading is even more critical than before the internet, and "digital natives" (that's most of our students, these days) often struggle with reading comprehension and their speed or rate of reading, in comparison with older people who were not born in the internet age, and who consume web text voraciously.

General Knowledge : You should keep up to date with current events from reliable news sources (Yahoo news may be a gateway, but it hardly gives a deep or critical analysis). I recommend the Guardian, the New York Times,  and CBC as basic sources of information. You have access to these through the York University library system and also, probably, through your local public library. If you have an iPad, the Al-Jazeera English magazine app is well worth downloading. The FREE (up to now) magazine has amazing coverage of all kinds of issues. They had the BEST coverage of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings in December 2013.

Science in General: New Scientist and Scientific American, as well as the journals, Nature and Science will keep you up to date on latest discoveries and opinions, and are worth reading weekly, or following on Twitter.

Science Podcasts: There are loads of great websites out there, but have you thought about getting your science information from podcasts?

People Behind the Science with Dr. Marie McNeely
Science is Golden -- Australian Morning Herald podcast
Star Talk Radio with Neil De Grasse Tyson
Science for the People podcast

Biology in General: Hold on to some of your early undergraduate textbooks, and re-read them. I just participated in updating an Ecology text and I can say that I poured more blood, sweat and tears into the chapter that I wrote, than pretty much any writing since my doctoral thesis.

My  favourite non-ecology textbooks, these days is the BIOL 2010 Plant Biology text.

Ecology: IMHO, anything authored by Dawn Bazely is worth reading! I have spilled ink on millions of words about science, ecology and learning about it all, but, forget about me, and check out some of the key readings for orienting yourself in the fields of Ecology and Evolution.

Google Scholar - I like to check up on what colleagues, here and elsewhere are publishing. The Google Scholar blog is infrequent, but excellent.

Social Media and Blogs: Surveys have shown that its imperative to look after your digital footprint. Interestingly, not having any social media and digital footprint at all, isn't a good thing. Learning how to blog and do social media for science are skills that I tend to incorporate in my courses these days.

Museum & Government Websites: also provide reliable information