Teaching Methods

Designing Research Assignments

Research Assignments

Constructing research assignments that will lead students to greater understanding of both the information found and the process of research requires considerable thought.

An effective research assignment...

  • has a specific, understood purpose.
  • relates to some aspect of course subject matter or learning objectives.
  • leads to increased understanding of a subject or the process of locating information related to a subject.
  • makes students aware of the variety of information sources and formats available (e.g., print, electronic, microform, video).
  • teaches students to select and evaluate quality information sources appropriate to their topics.
  • reinforces habits of ethical scholarship.

--University of Maryland, University Libraries.

The following sources discuss best practices in designing research assignments, communicating the teacher's requirements to the students, and choosing topics that make plagiarism more difficult.  They also list types of assignments commonly used in particular disciplines, and make suggestions about ways to work with university librarians to maximize the effectiveness of research assignments.

Creating Effective Research Assignments (U Md) (also discusses teaching proper citation practices)

Integrating Information Literacy Into Your Classes (Gettysburg College) (includes sample course assignments)

Information Literacy Tutorial:  Designing Assignments (U Md University College) (ties to desired learning outcomes, extensive examples and links to web resources)

Information Literacy Generally

Introduction to Information Literacy (Association of College & Research Libraries)

Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education

Rubric to Assess Information Literacy Assignments

Student in Library