Consider arranging for a librarian to provide an information literacy workshop customized to your assignment(s).
Ideally, this is arranged as soon as possible and taught about 3 weeks before the assignment is due.
Contact your discipline/campus liaison librarian for support.
A pre-assessment of students' research abilities provides evidence of students' needs that can be used to develop appropriate library support. Please feel free to adapt this pre-assessment for your own class or contact your liaison librarian for assistance.
Consider customizing the Library Resources page in your Blackboard course.
A librarian can also tell you about other research-related online support options for your course. Contact the liaison librarian for your discipline/campus.
Librarians have observed that these characteristics support the development of students' research skills and often result in less problematic assignments.
1. Do the goals of my assignment (including library research) align with my course goals and my program goals?
Students will be more motivated if they see how the assignment fits into your course and program.
2. Do students know what types of resources I want them to use (and avoid) for my assignment and why? Do students know how to find them?
Undergraduates often have little experience doing academic research. They are unaware of what constitutes academic quality resources, how to find them in the library, and how to evaluate resources that they find (in Google or from the Library). Consider the following steps to help students choose better resources.
Written Assignment Instructions: Consider including a brief statement explaining what type of resources you want students use and why. Review the statement in-class.
Explain the difference between searching Google and Library resources: Students often perceive Google and library resources as being 'online' and, therefore, the same. Consider talking to your students about how library research tools differ from Google and discuss advantages/disadvantages of different search tools.
Library Instruction: Librarians are available to provide information literacy instruction upon your request. Your liaison librarian can meet with you to discuss a variety of in-person or online options.
3. Is my assignment scaffolded to suppport student learning?
Scaffolding, or breaking your assignment into small steps, can often improve students' success because they have the opportunity to focus on one or two skills/tasks at a time.
4. Have I considered incorporating the evaluation of students' library research skills into their final grade?
You may wish to designate marks to assess the quality of students' research. For example, have you considered including research into your marking rubric?
5. Have I checked with the Library to ensure that there are adequate resources for all students in my class?
Check that the Library has adequate resources for all of your students to complete the assignment. If resources are limited, consider putting some items on course reserve to ensure the entire class has access. Contact library staff at St. George, UTSC, or UTM as appropriate.
Please contact your liaison librarian for further support.
These are a series of websites that offer advice on best practices for designing library research assignments. There are also many suggestions of different types of assignments which include library research.
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