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Research Assignment Development

Creating Effective Library Assignments

The assignment should:

  • Be purposeful: An effective library assignment has a specific understood purpose.
  • Be clear: A student who misunderstands an assignment will have difficulty completing it. Be sure to give out the assignment in writing rather than orally. It is also a good idea to forward a copy of the assignment to the librarians so they are able to anticipate student’s needs.
  • Be current: Library resources are constantly changing. Make sure your assignment is not out of date and uses the most current sources and research methods.
  • Be appropriate: Make sure your assignment can be completed by the students in a timely manner. Check with the library to make sure there are enough resources to support the assignment.
  • Embody critical thinking: Design the assignment so that students are able to use the information in a meaningful way. Having students analyze, evaluate, or comment on the information they find will help integrate information literacy skills into your course and makes students more apt to retain these skills.
  • Refer: Stress to students that there are professional librarians available at the library to help them retrieve the information they need.

Helpful reminders:

  • Don't use an incomplete or inaccurate name when referring to a source. This can create confusion, as many reference works have similar titles.
  • Don't give a large class the same exact assignment. If you point your students to a single book or video, students will have problems accessing it. If you do so, please arrange to have the materials put on Course Reserve.
  • Don't require a source that the library doesn't own. Please contact the library to discuss our available materials.
  • Don't assume the students know the library basics. Librarians are available to conduct a library tour, or come to your class to introduce the basics of effective use of the library.

Idea suggestions

Need some fresh ideas for assignments? Here are a few links to get you started: