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Information Literacy Instruction Services: Best Practices

Guide to Information Literacy Instruction for Faculty and Instructors

Developing Research Assignments

Consult with your librarian when creating research assignments. Librarians keep up with trends in research and publishing which can affect students' access to information.

Tips for creating effective research assignments... 

  • Collaborate with your librarian to help students throughout the entire research process
  • Ask students to think locate, evaluate, and use information in a meaningful way; it should require them to think critically 
  • Provide to students in writing the types of sources they should use
  • Focus on the content of information, not the format in which it's delivered; for example, a print source isn't necessarily more credible than an online source
  • Ensure that sources you ask students to locate in the library are owned by the library
  • Use reserves if all students will be asked to use the same source
  • Refer to databases by their individual names, not by their vendor names; for example, "Academic Search Premier" is the name of a database, while EBSCO is the vendor name

Things to avoid when creating research assignments...

  • Treasure or scavenger hunts; these types of assignments focus on discrete answers and do not require students to work with information in a meaningful or relevant way
  • Relying on tours of the library; this will not teach students all they need to know about the library and research

Working with a Librarian in the Classroom


Librarians will tailor lesson plans to meet individual class needs. It is especially important that students have an assignment that requires them to use or think about information critically. It is also helpful to share with your librarian the context of the assignment within the broader learning outcomes of the course. 

Point of need

Timing is a crucial component for successful information literacy instruction. If scheduled too early, students may not retain what they have learned or see the relevancy of the session. If scheduled too late, students may not have acquired the skills they need to successfully complete an assignment. A helpful rule of thumb is to schedule a session with a librarian two weeks to 10 days before a specific assignment is due. Librarians request at least 2 weeks' notice to plan an effective and engaging library instruction session.

Your participation

Professors and instructors are required to attend sessions along with their students.  We encourage your active involvement in the class.  This lends credibility to the importance of the session.

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