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Tips on Creating a Library Assignment

The Library Assignment

Give the assignment in writing.
    Written assignments cause less confusion for the students and give the students a foundation to work from.

Have a clear objective for the assignment.
    Explain why the assignment was given and what you expect the students to gain from completing the assignment.

Avoid scavenger hunts.
    Scavenger hunts are frustrating for students unfamiliar with discipline sources. A hunt contributes very little to students learning the process of research within a library.

Do the assignment yourself.
    Try to complete the assignment before handing it out to students. Trying the assignment can point out problems with sources and/or directions.

Advise the students of any required citation format.
    Telling the students will save confusion as to what format they should use and let them know they are required to cite their sources for the assignment.

Make sure the assignment requires the students to be in the library to use materials.
    Many sources of information can be accessed from outside the library. If you want students inside the library, be sure to use print or electronic sources which must be accessed within the library.

Using library terms can confuse students.
    Explain any library terminology (scholarly sources, peer-reviewed) and how it affects the assignment. Or schedule an instruction session with a librarian.

Make sure the students understand the difference between using the Internet and using web based sources.
    Many databases and government sources are accessed through the web. Students are often confused between using the "Internet" and a web based database or legitimate government source. For more information, schedule an instruction session with a librarian.

Give students sufficient time to complete the assignment.
    Remember that students often have rudimentary research abilities and may lack basic library skills. They may require more time to complete the assignment due to their skill level.

Discuss the assignment in class.
    Discussing the assignment and the process for completing the assignment in class enforces the idea that you consider library and/or research skills an important factor in the student's education.

Using the Sources in the Library

Try to incorporate a mixture of sources (DVD, print, electronic, VHS) for the students to work with.
    Providing the students with a mixture of sources exposes the students to the variety of information in various formats.

If students are using the same source for an assignment, consider placing the source at the Reserve Desk in the library.

Make sure the library has the resources listed on the assignment.
    Materials can become quickly outdated and replaced or switched to a different format. Make sure you have the correct citation and format listed for the assignment.

Consider using a variety of topics or a general topic (effect of illegal drugs on a person) rather than one topic.
    Giving students a variety of topics or a general topic (with many sub-topics) helps insure materials will be available for all students to complete the assignment.

Be clear on the number and type of resources required for the assignment.
    When students know the type and number of resources required, they encounter less frustration with the assignment. Be specific if you do not want them to use "popular magazines" or "Internet sources" but "scholarly sources" and "web based" databases or legitimate government sites are acceptable.

Think about updating the assignment.
    Often materials become outdated and are removed from the library or updated in different formats. Make sure the assignment reflects the current resources available to students. If you would like the assistance of a librarian to update the assignment, please contact the Reference/Instruction department at 237-2604.

Students Asking for Assistance in the Library

Tell students to ask for assistance.
    Students may be unsure if they can ask for assistance with the assignment. Let them know asking a librarian on duty at the Reference Desk or making an appointment with the Liaison Librarian is ok.

The Librarian's Role

If the assignment involves new research skills for the students, consider scheduling an instruction session at the library.
    Students may be new to the campus or the library. An instruction session can introduce them to basic and advanced research skills and resources in a variety of formats.

Give the Reference Desk a copy of the assignment.
    Providing the Reference Desk with a copy of the assignment provides the librarians with a "heads up" about the assignment and helps us to keep track of the resources needed for the assignment.

Have a librarian attend your class.
    A librarian can travel to your class to discuss the assignment and provide students with basic tips to help them start the assignment.

Ask a Librarian to View the Assignment.
    Asking a librarian to preview the assignment before handing it out to students can help insure the sources are available and in the formats required. Librarians may also be able to advise you of additional resources which contain the same information.

Librarians Can Help You Develop an Assignment.
    We can meet with you to assist in developing an assignment. We can help you choose print and electronic sources; identify key resources for the assignment and even pretest the assignment.
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