Knowledge Base

Creating Effective Library Research Assignments


Effective library research assignments:

  • Have a specific purpose related to some aspect of the course subject matter.
  • Communicate specific learning objectives.
  • Create an awareness of the variety of resources available.
  • Teach students to access information effectively and efficiently.
  • Help students to develop research strategies.
  • Assist students in selecting and evaluating quality information sources.
  • Encourage critical thinking.

Creating an Effective Library Research Assignment

  • Assume minimal library knowledge. Many students are very inexperienced in using a research library. Few understand the call number system or journal citations; even fewer have mastered the more complex concepts of controlled vocabulary or database searching.
  • Consult with your subject reference librarian before writing the assignment. A librarian will work with you to design an assignment that will achieve your objectives.
  • Define terms for your students. Explain what “peer-reviewed journal,” “primary or secondary source material,” or other such phrases mean in your discipline.
  • Create meaningful assignments. Library assignments that are directly related to students' coursework may be more effective than scavenger hunts that send them searching for trivia.
  • Verify the library has materials to support the assignment. Check the library’s catalog and electronic resources in advance to insure adequate amount of materials for a subject. Subject librarians may also assist you in determining if the library's collection is adequate enough to meet your students' potential research needs.
  • Define the types of internet information acceptable for a specific assignment. Let students know that there is difference between general internet sites and scholarly resources available via the library’s online databases.
  • If time permits, schedule your class to come to the library for a formal instruction session. University librarians offer a wide range of instructional services from basic orientation to specialized research guidance and printed subject guides.
Many students are very inexperienced in using a research library. Few understand the call number system or journal citations; even fewer have mastered the more complex concepts of controlled vocabulary or database searching.


Return