“And then we add my special secret source”: Do cookery students need APA style?

Referencing is a necessary part of academic writing. Many students can’t see the point of it at all, and even more struggle to grasp its intricacies. When you’re talking with cookery or music students, it’s difficult to persuade them to see it as of any importance compared to a good flan or the latest guitar riff on the charts. As librarians, we must convince students of the importance and benefits of acknowledging and using quality sources – not just for their next assignment, but for their careers. We must take all opportunities to connect students with a range of resources, to show how to identify the relevant sources, and to assess the quality of these for their information needs.

A number of attempts have been made over the years to assist students with the mechanics of creating reference lists. Several years ago I attempted a new teaching approach to bring some fun to this dry topic by injecting a kinesthetic activity into the exercise. I encouraged classes to create a “human reference entry”. Each student was assigned a part in an APA reference book entry and given an A4 sheet with their piece printed on it. Working together, the class had to position each person in the correct order of the reference entry.

Time and space no longer allow this approach these days and so I have modified my teaching plans. I do try to allow for plenty of time for students to both actively practise their referencing skills and interact in groups as well.

Last year at the LIANZA Telsig Forum, NorthTec information literacy librarian Valerie Green-Moss shared her own simpler 123 Referencing Style, with fewer rules and regulations for students to follow. The rationale for this innovation (with which I wholeheartedly agree) was to give more credit for searching and selecting quality resources and less on the punctuation of a referencing list. Valerie was very successful in gaining acceptance of the new simplified referencing style with her academic faculties, and they changed their marking schedules to suit.

I have taken a less radical or controversial approach as a result of my learning from Valerie. Instead, I have been teaching level 2 foundation health and level 4 cookery certificate classes to acknowledge their sources in a worksheet, rather than grapple with a referencing style. Students are prompted to fill in a table headed with elements of various sources. Although all of the elements from sources are those that are expected to be present in the APA referencing style (6th edition), there’s no prescribed method for filling in the sheet and we accept any order or case for authors’ names and book titles. Tutors have found this method of referencing acceptable at these levels, particularly as many of the cookery students are ESL learners. The referencing sheet has proven to be much easier for all students to complete.

I see this approach as scaffolding students into creating full referencing lists, which will be required should they further their studies. Many of the cookery students will be seeking employment after their level 4 course without further study. For these students, I am introducing them to the acknowledgment of sources as well as hopefully imparting to them the importance of considering and using appropriate, relevant and quality sources.

For a winter treat and on the cookery theme, I have a hearty soup recipe to warm you. This traditional Scottish soup recipe has been rated with 4 out of 5 stars, the website provides a nutritional breakdown of the ingredients used in its making and the chef is an acclaimed food personality in the UK – which suggests that this is a quality resource as well as being filling on a winter’s day!. Full APA referencing and link to the recipe are as follows:

Martin, J. (2013, February). Cock-a-leekie soup. BBC Good Food Magazine, p. 40.  Retrieved from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2875665/cockaleekie-soup