Skip to main content

CREATING EFFECTIVE RESEARCH ASSIGNMENTS : General Guidelines

EFFECTIVE LIBRARY ASSIGNMENTS.

  • have a clear purpose
  • relate to learning outcomes
  • make students aware of the variety of resources available
  • teach students to evaluate the quality of their sources
  • teach students to conduct ethical scholarship

The following guidelines can help your students succeed.

a

a

RESEARCH STRATEGIES

  • A research strategy is a method for organizing a research project, taking into account the kinds of information sought and the sequence in which sources should be consulted.

  • Research strategies often seem obvious to experienced researchers but are generally unknown to students.

  • Example:
    • 1. Define and focus your topic using an encyclopedia article or other reference book for background information.
    • 2. Develop a list of keywords, concepts and subject-headings.
    • 3. Look for books using your keywords, concepts and subject-headings in the library catalog.
    • 4. Use an appropriate periodical database to find additional/current information in magazines and journals.

REVIEW LEARNING OUTCOMES

  • Outcomes are statements of what students should be able to do as a result of the assignment.

    • Example: Students should be able to discern between scholarly and non-scholarly journals.

  • Explain how the research assignment helps fulfill the objectives of your course; how will your assignment contribute to the student's understanding of the course content? Include this information in the written assignment that you distribute.

DON'T WANT INTERNET SOURCES? TELL THEM.

    • State in your syllabus and tell students when discussing assignments that all papers/projects must cite a certain number of print materials. Depending on the assignment, you can also require that no Internet material be used. This is a common academic practice. A short paper for freshmen or sophomores can most likely be written using only printed materials such as reference books. BE CLEAR, however, that you are not banning the University Libraries' electronic resources.

  • If students are doing a lengthy paper, require a working annotated bibliography (and grade it!) to be submitted several weeks before the paper is due and make sure quality materials are included. The annotations should evaluate the sources for their usefulness. You can probably direct students to good materials they may not have found, or tell them to come ask a librarian for help.

TEST THE ASSIGNMENT

  • Make sure your students have a reasonable expectation of successfully completing the assignment. If you don't find the materials you expected to find, please talk to a librarian and let them know.
     
  • Review the assignment with one of the librarians.
  • Ask your students for feedback on the assignment.
  • Ask the liaison in your area to evaluate the assignment for you.

THE MYTH OF THE MILLENNIAL

  • Don't assume because your students are under the age of 25 that they can do more than FACEBOOK and text.  Most students are unaware of the academic resources (print and online) that you may prefer them to use. Research is not the same as surfing the Web.
  • Your students may need an introduction to using Blackboard and the various resources found within it.