Suggestions for Designing Information Literacy Assignments
- Inform the students of the purpose of the research assignment. .
- Be specific: Let students know what is acceptable and/or required. Length, format for references (MLA, APA), and acceptable types of sources (books, scholarly articles, magazines, web).
- Test the assignment beforehand. Be sure the resources you are asking them to use are available.
- Schedule a library instruction session to introduce your students to the process of research and available resources.
- Send a copy of your assignment to your Library Liaison.
- Topic selection. Students often choose "hot topics" when conducting research and may have difficulty developing a focused research question from a current news event. Require a variety of sources, but be flexible; not all topics, particularly those chosen by students themselves, are covered in every type of resource. Before students finalize their research questions, consider having them run their topics by you for approval.
- Provide examples of scholarly journals. If you require students to use articles from peer reviewed journals, provide examples in the assigned readings, refer to them, and discuss the characteristics of scholarly research and publication.
- "Scavenger Hunts." Physical and virtual scavenger Hunts can provide students with the opportunity to be in the library and also to begin exploring all that the library has to offer. What is important when crafting a scavenger hunt is the incorporation of problem solving, analysis, and critical thinking skills. If you are interested in designing a scavenger hunt, please contact your library liaison for assistance
- Give citations. If you assign students to read an article in a journal that is in our online collection, give them the article citation, not a photocopy or link to the article. Students will learn the skill of reading and locating articles from citations.
More Assignment Ideas
- Scholarly vs. Popular Publications: Compare and contrast discussions of the same topic in a popular magazine and a scholarly journal on the criteria of authority, content, style, bias, audience, etc. (Incorporates ACRL Standards 1,3)
- Letters to the Editor: Each student chooses a topic of current national interest and writes a letter expressing his/her opinion on the subject to the editor of a local newspaper. Students work in small groups to critically examine one another's letters and to identify any dubious statements. Each student is assigned to substantiate those statements that were singled out by the group as needing more convincing evidence or authority. Research is required for the process, and the result is a 750-word essay, with documentation in the form of notes and a bibliography. (Incorporates ACRL Standards 3.5)
- Database Searching: Provide a precise statement of your topic, a list of keywords or thesaurus terms (as appropriate), and a list of actual searches to enter into appropriate library research databases you've chosen. After carrying out the search(es), write a report explaining why you chose that database and describe how the search results either met or did not meet your expectations. Can work in groups and present to class. (Incorporates ACRL Standards 1,2)
- Comparing print and web resources: In groups of 3-5, have students examine pairs of items (books or journal articles and web sites) to determine indicators of quality in each item; where exactly they found those indicators; the appropriate use for each item. Have them report their findings to the class after the class has had a chance to also evaluate the sites. Have an open discussion of what is and isn't on the Web. (Incorporates ACRL Standards 1,2)
- Research Activity: Finding Related Sources using Bibliographies: Students find an article for their topic and then, from that article, try to locate other articles listed in the bibliography. (Incorporates ACRL Standard 2)
- Evaluating Internet sites: Brainstorm evaluative criteria for Web sites and use criteria to evaluate selected sites. Students find two Internet sites on topic, use evaluation criteria to ascertain quality of information on sites and write an evaluation of each site. Give students printouts or urls for several Internet sites. Students rate them according to appropriateness for college level research, reliability of information, currency, etc.
- Annotated Bibliography: Students create an annotated bibliography of sources used for their projects and explain why they chose each source and its relevancy. (Incorporates ACRL Standards 1,2,3,5)
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