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Information Literacy Guide for Faculty: Assignment Design

How We Can Help

To guide students successfully through the research process, it is important to collaborate with librarians, anticipate student stumbling blocks, and have a list of resources ready. Librarians are available to recommend specific library resources, as well as suggest sources, source types, and tasks to meet your assignment's information literacy learning outcomes. 

Services

  • Help design an effective research assignment that anticipates potential student stumbling blocks.
  • Evaluate a current research assignment for information literacy competencies.
  • Recommend specific library resources, as well as sources, source types, and tasks to meet your assignment's information literacy learning outcomes
  • Provide research guides, handouts, worksheets, and more to support your assignment. Customized content is available with enough lead time.
  • Instruct students in library resources and information literacy skills at their point of need to coincide with when they are most motivated to learn.
  • Offer course support within Canvas for online and hybrid courses.

Considerations

  1. What research skills would you like students to develop through the assignment?
  2. How will the learning goals and their importance be communicated in the assignment? 
  3. How will students demonstrate their learning?
  4. Have you or another tester tried to complete the assignment from a student's viewpoint?

Top Suggestions

Assignment Requirements

  • Confirm that published research exists to support the research assignment and recommended sources are available at the college library (online or in-person).
  • If print books are an assignment parameter, require each student research a different topic to ensure the library can meet demand; or ask the library to temporarily reserve books.
  • Suggest sources that align with students’ levels (reading ability, knowledge of subject matter, search skills, etc.).
  • Avoid strict and burdensome limits. Restrictions, especially when several are combined, can make research nearly impossible for students.
  • Set reasonable expectations about the use of print sources versus online sources. Sometimes, the most recent or relevant information is no longer available in print, e.g. many government publications are now only online.

Searching for Information

  • Recommend and require specific sources (library databases, reference materials, scholarly sources, etc.).
  • Specify the number of sources required and source types permitted.
  • Permit students to change their topics based on the reality of their research experience.

Evaluating Information

  • Require appropriate authority and credibility of sources.

Using Information

 

Tutorial

Sample Assignments

Resources for Assignment Design

Suggested Reading

Final Thoughts

Have I...

  1. Provided a written description of the assignment (in the syllabus or in a separate document)?
  2. Specified the purpose of the assignment?
  3. Indicated the intended audience?
  4. Articulated the instructions in precise and unambiguous language?
  5. Provided information about the appropriate format and presentation (e.g., page length, typed, cover sheet, bibliography)?  
  6. Indicated special instructions, such as a particular citation style or headings?  
  7. Specified the due date and the consequences for missing it?
  8. Articulated performance criteria clearly?
  9. Indicated the assignment’s point value or percentage of the course grade?
  10. Provided students (where appropriate) with models or samples?
  11. Tried to do the assignment myself or asked another to test it?

Adapted from Carnegie Mellon University.


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