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Learning to Use Primary Sources Adults throughout Utah, and throughout the nation, are making the decision to return to school to restart and complete their education. These returning students are going back to school to receive degrees and certifications in such areas as business administration, accounting, and computer science in Lehi so that they will have the knowledge and qualifications necessary to achieve their career goals. When these students in Utah, and in Lehi specifically, return to school they may be a little rusty on some of the common academic practices that will bring them success in school. One such practice that is essential to academic success for many disciplines is the ability to read, analyze, and incorporate primary sources.

Primary sources The first thing that a returning student must understand is what constitutes a primary source. Knowing what a primary source is will help the student to use the information provided by primary sources effectively. A primary source is a source or record taken by individuals who were actually present at the time of the event that is being studied. To understand this principle clearly, one can look at the discipline of history. Historical primary sources include things like newspaper articles that document past events or a diary entry by a person who lived through a certain event. These first-hand accounts all constitute a primary source. Primary sources are not limited to history, however. Business administration students in Lehi, for example, will also come across multiple primary sources in the case studies that they read. Case studies are an example of primary sources that will help the student to understand principles and concepts of the course and can be used effectively if a student knows how to deal with primary sources in general. The first way that a student can become more effective in reading their primary sources and subsequently being able to analysis and incorporated the information found therein is by adequate preparation. While preparing to read a primary source a student should understand what they hope to get out of the source itself. Or in other words, what information they hope to glean from the source.


What did you learn? To best accomplish this, a student should consider what it is specifically that they want to learn from the source as well as what they already know about the source. Finding information in the text will come easier to those who read the source with a purpose and goal in mind as to what the hope to learn from the source itself. While reading the primary source, a student can make the best use of the source by analyzing the material presented in the text. Often there is blatant information presented by the author of the source as well as information that can be implied by the author. This implicated information will need to be deduced by the student in order for the primary source to be used to its utmost potential. Returning students in Utah and in Lehi should strive to remember the importance of primary sources in their academic work. They can make the best use of these sources by understanding what they are, how to prepare for them, and how to effectively read them. Photo credit: Justonlysteve, Betta Design


Learning to Use Primary Sources