Student Profile with Introduction

9.1Information Literacy

9.2Choosing, Narrowing, and Researching a Topic

9.3Using the Library

9.4Evaluating Sources

9.5Using Your Research in Writing

9.6The Writing Process

9.7Using Your Research in Presentations


Victoria Walter, 43

Business Administration Major, Santa Fe College, Florida


Victoria Walter found that life was changing around her. After 25 years of marriage, she saw her two sons off to college and wondered what was next for her. So Victoria decided to enroll in a business administration program at Santa Fe College, a community college in Gainesville, Florida, while also working 40 hours a week as a department manager at a major retail store. After graduation, she would like to transfer to the University of Florida to continue her education. “If all goes according to plan,” she says, “I will graduate alongside my sons! Not that I am competing with my sons, but knowing they’re in college too keeps me motivated.”

“After I attended a workshop in the library, I developed a better understanding of how to cite my sources.”

When it comes to doing library research, Victoria has learned a lot of skills in her first-year college success course. However, she often struggles with collecting enough information on her topic and communicating the information in writing or in oral presentations to the class. She learned that she could ask a librarian for help in identifying information sources, but she found it a bit difficult to make it clear which ideas were hers and which ideas came from other sources. “After I attended a workshop in the library, I developed a better understanding of how to cite my sources,” she noted. Victoria’s biggest challenge, however, is organizing the facts and details she needs to support her point. She has worked to overcome this challenge, and one of the most effective strategies for Victoria has been creating an outline before she begins writing. “This really helps me stay on track and focus on my topic,” she explains. “Also, I always review my written material to ensure that I have covered all key points before completing the paper.”

Victoria found that sharing her ideas with a classmate or family member as she develops her paper is helpful. “I noticed that when I write papers,” she says, “I tend to write as if I am speaking with someone.” She also discovered that she needs someone to proofread her final papers before she submits them.

As far as presenting her ideas in front of a group, Victoria feels extremely nervous. She has learned that preparing notes and practicing in front of her husband or a mirror helps her with controlling her nerves during the presentation.

Already happy with the path her life is taking, Victoria thinks that college will help further her ambitions. “I would like to become an executive manager at my current place of employment. I’ll be the manager that other employees come to for job information and employment questions.”


As Victoria’s story illustrates, when you write papers and prepare oral presentations, the ability to find the information you need and to make sense of it is important. Finding information, writing, and speaking are basic requirements for all college courses. Instructors want to see how you form your thoughts about your topic instead of providing just a summary of the information. They are interested in seeing which ideas you are accepting, which you are rejecting, and how you relate the concepts and come to a new understanding of the topic. In short, they want to see you think deeply about the information you find. These skills are particularly important in today’s world, where processing information is part of daily life and career, and the more skilled you are, the better able you’ll be to explore or confirm your life purpose and plans for the future.