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Library Instruction

Craft an Effective Research Assignment

Information literate students take the knowledge they have acquired in their discipline, expand their understanding through research, and effectively manage their findings. In addition, they think critically about what they have learned in order to contribute to the scholarly conversation. The library invites faculty to explore this site in order to:

  • Require students to choose quality resources and reflect on their use
  • Treat research as an ongoing, iterative process with purposeful steps
  • Invite students to explore and expand their understanding of the topic itself, and how information is used in the discipline


For more, see our Effective Research Assignments FAQ or schedule an Assignment Design Consultation to meet one-on-one with your librarian to develop or revise a research assignment. 


The six-part Framework for Information Literacy contains particular concepts that can be emphasized and prioritized to give an assignment a distinctive flavor.


Scholarship as Conversation

  • Students consider publishing or archiving research for use by other students and other researchers
  • Students critically evaluate scholarly articles to determine their significance
  • Students recognize the significance of disciplinary consensus


Information Creation as a Process

  • Students present their research to real or theoretical "audiences" that are not only the professor or their classmates
  • Students create artifacts like films, presentations, and other works beyond the traditional research paper
  • Students document the creation process and think of it in various stages


Information Has Value

  • Students understand the rationale for citations and use formats effectively
  • Students consider publishing their research and consider Creative Commons licenses and other copyright concerns
  • Students utilize interlibrary loan to fully explore the discipline


Research as Inquiry

  • Students work from evidence rather than assumptions, and develop theses in response to data and searching
  • Students conduct specific background investigations before joining deeper research conversations
  • Students clearly define research questions using a brainstorming and question creation process


Authority Is Constructed and Contextual

  • Students examine why they choose their sources and whose voice they represent
  • Students use various kinds of sources and reflect on "peer review"
  • Students form opinions from sources instead of choosing sources to suit preconceived opinions


Searching as Strategic Exploration

  • Students document their source location process and analyze it for possible strengths and weaknesses
  • Students consult with librarians who may help them find resources they would not have considered
  • Students actively compare the value of the disciplinary resources they used in completing their assignment