After my many years at this university, I'm still shocked at the number of senior students I've encountered who don't know how to use the library. The fault lies in part with the students lacking initiative, of course, but also, I think, with instructors who don't assign research papers. Yesterday I once again helped a senior who had only ever written one research paper, and who had never used the library's electronic databases to find journal articles. She had spent hours at a computer only to turn up three newspaper articles on her relatively common topic.
Obviously my high school experience was aberrant, but when I was in tenth grade my biology teacher expected us to use the local university library to undertake our research.* As a result, I found myself in a Cal State U. library at age 15 and frequently thereafter. Shouldn't such basic research skills be required of all college-bound students, or at least forced upon them when they arrive at college? Those skills (along with a healthy dose of critical thinking faculties) certainly would improve their papers.
*Does this statement make me sound old? I also walked to school in the snow; it was uphill both ways, and I had to carry a sick chicken under each arm. (OK, I made up the part about the chickens.)