My violin teacher told me that she has her college students tell her something new about the composers of their pieces. I'm guessing this is to get them to look up the composer and read, say, a Wikipedia entry, which would at least give them a basic intro to period, place, and the composer's history. At any rate, I've been doing this. For some it's easier than others.
According to Wikipedia, Bach may not be buried in Bach's grave. Neat.
And JB Lully, the super famous French Baroque composer wasn't born French? Nope, according to Wikipedia, he was born Giovanni Battista Lulli in Florence, and became a French subject in 1661.
This week, though, my new piece is by Beethoven. What new can I possible learn about Beethoven to tell my teacher? (Lots would be new to me, but not to her.)
So I decided instead of stopping at Wikipedia, I'd look up some scholarly articles. Now, I start with a huge advantage over my students there, because I know how to limit the searches and such. But still, I looked at articles that were way, way beyond anything I could understand (because I don't know the theory stuff, especially).
And that's what happens to my students all the time, especially when they look at specialized articles in, say, English lit.
So, how do we get students to begin to read and understand those articles?
I was reading a student's Shakespeare paper today, and it cites a bunch of sources that sounded suspect, so I started looking, and the suspect sounding ones were mostly papers by undergrads, put up on the web by their schools (it looked like), with one other looking like it was someone doing research for an SCA type group (not bad for what it was, but not what my student should have been depending on).