Planning a Library Assignment

Just about any assignment that involves finding and using resources outside of a textbook requires that students first recognize what information is needed and then have the skills to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information; this is the very definition of information literacy. The library strives to offer resources that aid students in this process. This page offers tips in planning, designing, and assessing assignments that use library resources so that such assignments may help students become better researchers.

Library Assignment: Planning | Designing | Assessing | Suggestions

Planning Tips

1. Assume your students have minimal knowledge of how to do research in a college library.

2. Consult with a librarian concerning the assignment so that you know whether resources needed to complete the assignment are available in the IU Kokomo Library.

3. Review the subject research guides that are already available on the library's Web site. If one is not available on your class topic, you may ask a librarian to develop one that meets your needs.

4. Try out your assignment yourself to see how long it takes an experienced researcher to complete, as well as to be sure it can easily be completed with the available resources.

Designing Tips

1. Be clear about assignment goals, preferably in writing.

2. Announce grading criteria for the assignment.

3. Make sure students know which style manual you want them to use, as well as how to find documentation and help for this style through the Writing Center.

4. Discuss why it is important to cite sources and how doing so discourages plagiarism.

5. Make sure students can research a variety of topics for the assignment. The library may have limited print materials on certain topics, which would not allow an entire class to use them unless the materials were placed on reserve.

6. Review student topics; avoid current or very local topics, especially if students need scholarly sources. Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles take time to publish.

7. Avoid scavenger hunts or trivial pursuit assignments. They are difficult for students to complete using library resources and do not help students learn the research process.

Assessment Tips

1. Make sure the assignment expectations are clearly stated.

2. Develop a grading rubic to assess the assignment.

3. Establish intermittent deadlines along the way; this allows for a review of students' work. This process also allows you to provide guidance for those students who need it and helps to prevent plagiarism.

Assignment Suggestions

Below are links to a few resources that might help you create assignments that can best be completed using library resources.

Sample Assignments

Suggestions for Assignments (Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN): This site contains a chart that lays out alternatives to the standard research paper, as well as outlines the concepts and skills that are addressed by the assignment options.

Sample Library Assignment Ideas (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign): This page offers examples of assignments that incorporate library research.

Effective Research Assignments (University of California Berkeley): Provides suggestions to help instructors design assignments that mitigate students' struggles with navigating the research process.

Last Updated: 22 July 2014