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Information Literacy and Library Instruction: Creating Effective Library & Research Assignments

Information about the Amelia V. Gallucci-Cirio Library's Information Literacy and Instruction Programs and Services, scheduling instruction sessions for your courses, information literacy and research-based curriculum development, and more.

A well-designed library assignment teaches students valuable research skills and serves as a positive introduction to the research process, the library, and our resources.  Your department's liaison librarian and the instruction librarians are available to collaborate with you in creating effective library and research assignments. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when developing assignments.

A New Look at Library Assignments

The "No Websites" or "Print Only" assignment

While the underlying logic can't be argued - finding in-depth resources that are very likely to be authoritative - more and more resources are either "born digital" or becoming available only in electronic format. Increasingly, the only way for students to access certain scholarly content is through our web-based databases.

If the purpose of the assignment is to be able to identify and use authoritative resources, consider placing the emphasis not on the format (print vs. electronic), but on the content (scholarly vs. popular/mainstream). Require that students find books or articles with bibilographies, or have them follow a citation from one published paper to an earlier one and make the connection between the two. 

The "Scavenger Hunt" assignment

Scavenger hunts are great fun, but in today's age of electronic indexes and reference they rarely acheive the goal of introducing students to the basics of searching in the library, or the variety of library resources available.

Think about structuring a curriculum-based "information hunt" instead. Ask the students to identify a journal in the discipline, find a database that deals with the class topics and research an article in one, or search the library catalog with varying relevant keywords to show the different results.

The Research Paper

Based on class objectives, a traditional research paper might not be the most appropriate assignment to teach research skills. Alternatives such as research logs, annotated bibliographies, poster sessions, or literature reviews may be better tools to meet instructional goals.

Engineering Plagiarism Resistant Assignments

At the 2011 CTL Summer Institute, the library led the following discussion on creating plagiarism-resistant assignments using library resources. Have more ideas? Let us know and we'll share them here!

Collaborate with a Librarian

Assignment Development:

The instruction librarians can help you structure assignments that incorporate research skills and library resources, so please never hesitate to contact us!

Research Guides:

Every discipline at Fitchburg State has a comprehensive subject guide created by the library. This is a great starting-point for students as they begin their research.

We're also happy to create a course-specific guide for your class that focuses on the tools and sources that are most appropriate for your students and assignments. Here are some examples of guides created for specific courses:

Call or email your department's liaison librarian or one of the instruction librarians at any time to discuss creating a guide for your class!

Your Liaison Librarians

Behavioral Sciences

Biology &  Chemistry - Connie Strittmatter x4222

Business Administration - Linda LeBlanc x3062

Children's and Young Adult Literature - Nancy Turnbull x4338

Communications Media - Sherry Packard x3515

Computer Science - Sherry Packard x3515

Disabilities Studies - Connie Strittmatter x4222

Economics, History & Political Science

Education (All Programs) - Linda LeBlanc x3062

English Studies - Sherry Packard x3515

Exercise & Sport Science - Linda LeBlanc x3062

Geo/Physical Sciences - Renée Fratantonio x4219


Industrial Technology

Law/Legal Studies - Connie Strittmatter x4222

LGBTQ Studies - Asher Jackson x4869

Library Sciences - Nancy Turnbull x4338

Mathematics - Connie Strittmatter x4222

Nook - Sherry Packard x3515

Nursing - Linda LeBlanc x3062

Psychological Science - Asher Jackson x4869