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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 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 librarian before writing the assignment. The 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 that the library has materials to support the assignment. Your subject librarian can assist you with this, as well as recommend specific library resources.
  • Define the types of Internet sources that are 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 a library instruction session for your class. Librarians offer a wide range of instructional services from basic orientation to specialized research guidance and online subject guides.