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Teaching & Learning: Information Literacy

Information Literacy Research

A University of Washington study found that first-year students
  • apply strategies learned in high school
  • focus on the length of the paper rather than its content,
  • 84% of students have difficulty starting assignments
  • 66% have difficulty defining a topic

But, students receiving Information Literacy Instruction had a higher average GPA than those without : a study at Middle Tennessee State University

And,  students using the library during their first year have a higher GPA and higher student retention : a study from University of Minnesota

Guidelines for Effective Library Assignments

Consult with a Reference Librarian before the assignment
  • Sending a copy of your assignment to the reference librarian will ensure that the staff is prepared to help your students when needed
  • The reference librarian can help you ensure that the library has the needed resources to complete the assignment
  • Schedule a library research instruction session in class time.  Your involvement supports student learning
  • Consider online librarian support through online course chat and use of research guides
Assume minimal library knowledge.  All students need an introduction to research skills
  • Types of resources appropriate for the task:  books (catalog), articles (databases), primary sources, statistics...
  • Terminology in the library and in the discipline
  • Library tools specific to the discipline
  • Research journals v popular magazines v trade periodicals
  • Primary & secondary sources
  • Developing a research strategy
  • Web evaluation
  • Citation management
  • Plagiarism
Design assignments that reinforce research skills
  • Articulate your specific learning outcomes
  • Describe the research steps the student would expect to follow
  • Offer advice on creating research questions, selecting information sources, assessing sources, or the structure of the paper
  • Describe what the finished product should look like
  • Describe how the research process will be assessed
  • Split research assignments into a variety of tasks throughout the quarter to gradually build research skills by giving feedback at each stage
  • Discuss time management
  • Encourage students to use various production techniques (papers, paosters, presentations, webpages, video, etc.) to present the results of their research
Avoid the following types of assignments
  • Large classes working from a limited selection of topics
  • Scavenger hunts. These do not teach students how to use the library effectvely
  • Search for obscure facts or topics.  Avoid student and staff frustration

Use library RESERVES to give access to limited sources



In the Library