Zotero Can Easily Support Your Students’ Research

Could Zotero be useful for your students?1 And as it helps them, could it help you as well?

Upsides and Downsides

There are upsides and downsides to recommending Zotero to your students. On the one hand, it’s specifically designed to manage sources and repeatedly cite them appropriately. So, it takes a lot of the grunt work out of other ways of managing sources and producing documentation for them.

On the other hand, it is another piece of software to learn. Are your students going to be in your classes, or others like them, enough to see the kinds of returns Zotero can provide? And of course, if your students put garbage into Zotero—just like any other piece of software—they’ll only get garbage out.

That said, Zotero supports several citation styles that students often use. These styles include APA, MLA, and Turabian. So, it definitely has the resources they need. And if they use Zotero reasonably well, you might get the benefit of looking at a lot less mangled citations when it comes time to read their essays.

An Example

In the College of Biblical Studies at Faulkner University, we’ve put some careful thought into what we want to ask of students when it comes to citing sources.

For undergraduates, we ask for the author-date style from Turabian. This style already focuses on the bare essentials. Things can still go wrong, of course. But there’s much less to do and so much less that can go wrong than in a more complex style like SBL.

So, from perspective of grading, the choice of Turabian’s author-date style leaves much less to grade in the first place. And what’s left is quite straightforward in the main text and only gets bit more complex in the bibliography.

At the same time, Zotero fully supports Turabian’s author-date style. So, for any students who want to use Zotero, it’s ready and waiting for them. And it might just make the research process that much easier for them and their bibliographies that much cleaner for you.

To get a copy of the Turabian author-date style to try it out for yourself or send along to your students, you can install it from the Zotero repository. Or drop your email in the form below, and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.

Conclusion

Only you can weigh up the pros and cons of recommending Zotero to your students. But whatever you decide, it’s definitely worth thinking about what you can do to help them focus on the core things you’re asking them to do. If you do that, you’re liable to find that, over time, their doing better at their core work helps you do better at yours too.


Starting fall 2022, Faulkner will offer full-tuition scholarships to all traditional, undergraduate Bible majors. If you know an upcoming undergraduate who wants to get into biblical studies but has concerns about funding, please consider pointing them to Faulkner. We’d be delighted to serve them in this way.


  1. Header image provided by Marvin Meyer

Daily Gleanings: Lectures (4 December 2019)

In the Didaktikos issue for November 2019, Sean McGever has an excellent essay on lecture preparation (24, 26–27).

Using a baking metaphor, McGever encourages chronic over-preparers not to “overwork the batter” of their lectures so that they don’t come out overly dense.

McGever gives several practical suggestions about how to avoid overworking a lecture.

These begin with and derive from careful thought about the learning outcomes for a particular course and a particular lecture within that course and include thoughts about how efficiently structure notes and slide decks.

For all of McGever’s thoughts, see his full essay in Didaktikos.

Didaktikos 1

https://didaktikosjournal.com/Faithlife has launched a new journal specifically for faculty, Didaktikos, which focuses on issues related to theological education. The primary editor is Douglas Estes, and the editorial board includes Karen Jobes, Randolph Richards, Beth Stovell, and Douglas Sweeney. The inaugural issue includes authors and topics of broad interest:

• Mark Noll talks about teaching with expertise and empathy.
• Craig Evans, Jennifer Powell McNutt, and Fred Sanders write about recent trends in biblical archaeology, church history, and theology (respectively).
• Grant Osborne shares wisdom from his 40-year teaching career.
• Craig Keener writes about writing.
• Jan Verbruggen covers some fascinating research into the earliest alphabet (and it’s not Phoenician).
• Joanne Jung has written a helpful article on how to write effective prompts for online discussions.
• Darrell Bock discusses an overlooked area of NT studies.
• Stephen Witmer, an adjunct at Gordon-Conwell, shares solid insights about the synergy between teaching and pastoring.

Interested faculty can find more information and subscribe on the Didaktikos website or the journal’s announcement on the Logos Academic Blog.

ATS webinars for new faculty

The Association of Theological Schools has several helpful webinars archived for new faculty. Topics include:

  • Self-promotion and humility
  • Online teaching
  • Introduction to publishing
  • Publishing your dissertation
  • Promotion and tenure
  • Establishing a research agenda

For more information on each of the webinars or to view the recordings, please see the ATS website.

Babyak, “Teaching strategy for a Christian virtual environment”

I’ve recently had the opportunity of working through Andrew Babyak’s article, “A Teaching Strategy for a Christian Virtual Environment” (Journal of Research in Christian Education 24, no. 1 [2015]: 63–77). A number of Babyak’s reflections are quite insightful and helpful. According to the abstract,

The current landscape in education is changing rapidly as online learning programs are experiencing great growth. As online learning grows, many professors and students are entering into new learning environments for the first time. While online learning has proven to be successful in many cases, it is not a journey upon which Christian professors or students should begin without some preparation. This article articulates a basic Christian teaching strategy by providing recommendations for those who are entering the online environment for the first time or desire to improve their online teaching effectiveness. These principles and recommendations are presented so that Christian professors can create Christian virtual environments in which they can have a significant impact on their students’ spiritual development in an online environment. It is critical that professors design their courses with the needs of online students in mind, ensuring that students of all learning styles are able to excel. Furthermore, professors should understand that online teaching often takes more time than traditional methods of teaching, increasing the importance of clear instructions and communication with students.