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Library Instruction and Information Literacy: Effective Library Assignments

Effective Assignments

Effective assignments... 

  • require students to find, evaluate and use information in a meaningful, relevant way.
  • include a course-related library instruction session and/or a discussion about the assignment with your library subject specialist.
  • define the task and identify the sources students can and cannot use.
  • have been tested. Make sure that the library has the resources that you require your students to use
  • focus on information content, not container.  Be aware that electronic sources may be more appropriate and readily available than print sources.
  • be shared with students, including a list of resources you would like for them to consult.
  • take advantage of reserves if students will be asked to use the same resource.
  • give students enough time to complete the assignment successfully. Remind students that, even under the best circumstances, research takes time.
  • encourage students to stop by the reference desk if they need assistance.

Ineffective assignments...

  • include treasure or scavenger hunts. These types of assignments focus on discrete answers and do not develop research and information literacy skills in a meaningful or relevant way.
  • expect that a walk-through tour of the library will teach students all they need to know about the library and research.
  • have not been tested, and may not work.  For example, a generic assignment out of a handbook or textbook that requires students to use sources that the library doesn't own.
  • ask a class to retrieve the same exact print source; students may have difficulty accessing it.
  • require a source that the library does not own
  • use incomplete or inaccurate names when referring to a resource. For example, EBSCO is a database vendor; Academic Search Premier is the name of a general database.


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