Creating Successful Research Skills Assignments: Tips on Creating Library Research Skills Assignments

Tips on Creating Library Research Skills Assignments

Content from the University of Pennsylvania website on Writing Library Research Assignments


Set Clear Goals

Be clear about what the assignments are meant to accomplish. What skills do you expect the students to learn, and how do they relate to scholarly practice in the discipline? Don't assume that students understand basic concepts such as 'databases,' 'abstracts,' or "citations."

Make Assignments Relevant and Content Oriented

Successful assignments require students to work with information that is significant to them. Try to link research skills assignments to other assignments or otherwise integrate them into the course. Furthermore, assignments are more valuable if they require students to think critically about the resources' content, function, and relationship to the discipline.

Timing is Everything

Consider how your assignment relates to the class as a whole. For example, an assignment to teach students about types of disciplinary methods will work best when accompanied by a lecture or discussion on method.

Make Use of Library Support Services

Using the library's resources to assist with your research skills assignment can provide students with a more valuable learning experience.

  • Subject specialist librarians--now working collaboratively in "College and Interdisciplinary Teams" (CITS) can provide a research skills session designed specifically to your class' needs in an electronic classroom.
  • Librarians can visit your classroom or use the electronic classroom to teach particular skills, such as evaluating Internet resources or locating primary materials.
  • Librarians can work with your students individually or in small groups to teach advanced research techniques.

Consult with Librarians

Librarians can help during all steps in the process of creating research skills assignments.

  • If you aren't certain what sort of assignment you want to create, a librarian can provide ideas and suggest assignments that have been successful in the past.
  • If you're in the middle of creating an assignment, a librarian can suggest ways in which the library can support your efforts.
  • If you've already designed an assignment, notifying a librarian will allow the Library to flag problems and provide appropriate support when students have questions.

If you have a question for a librarian but aren't sure who to ask, send us a question.

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