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When designing assignments, keep in mind what motivates students:
  • relevance to the course content and their course grades
  • curiosity about the subject matter
  • lively modeling of the process by the professor or a librarian
  • an expected level of success with the assignment
General guidelines for designing assignments:
Set objectives and discuss them with your students - A statement of objectives helps students focus on the skills they should learn as a result of completing the assignment. Explore a problem assignment and suggested revision that illustrate this idea.
Talk to your students about the types of resources you require - Many students do not know the differences between popular and scholarly resources, and most students do not understand the concept of peer review. Show your students examples to help illustrate the differences. Charts outlining the differences can be very helpful. Explore a problem assignment and suggested revision that illustrate this idea.
Teach research strategies - Basic research strategies may seem obvious to experienced researchers but are often unknown to student. Encourage students to think about their paper or project as a process. Explore a problem assignment and suggested revision that illustrate this idea.
Allow for incremental improvement - Encourage students to begin working on projects early in the semester and to turn in small parts of the project (such as a bibliography of resources, an outline, or a rough draft) throughout the semester. Give feedback. Explore a problem assignment and suggested revision that illustrate this idea.
Foster critical thinking - Encourage a critical approach to doing research. Develop assignments that require students to integrate knowledge from a variety of sources rather than rely on just one source, and encourage them to evaluate everything they find. Explore a problem assignment and suggested revision that illustrate this idea.
Keep your assignments current - Library resources are constantly in flux. Check your assignments each semester so that your students aren't required to use outdated or replaced resources. Explore a problem assignment and suggested revision that illustrate this idea.
Get to know your subject librarian - The Library has specialized reference librarians assigned to each department on campus who can assist you in identifying resources, developing assignments, and introducing your students to library resources and services.
Allow variety in topic selection - Allow your students to research a variety of topics to prevent the entire class from needing one or a few books, which frequently leads to the misplacement, theft, or mutilation of materials.
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