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Tips for Designing Library Assignments

>  Consult with librarians and use the Library's instructional services.

  • Librarians are an excellent resource for developing library assignments and are glad to work with you in development, revision, and review. 
  • Electronic resources change frequently; librarians can direct you to appropriate library resources and assist in developing assignments that have sufficient resources to complete. 
  • Since students come to the Reference librarians for assistance, it is helpful for librarians to have a copy of the assignment in advance. 
  • After the assignment is due, a discussion of any problems in completing the assignment helps solve any issues for the next time, thus making a successful learning experience for students.
  • A consultation with a librarian may help determine whether a library instruction session would be appropriate for your needs. 

>  Assume minimal library knowledge.

Freshmen, transfer students, international students, or new graduate students may have had no experience with our library system.

Basic library skills may be inadequate for upper-level subject-based research assignments.

>  Present a realistic picture of what is, and what is not, on the web.

On the web (and perhaps ONLY on the web): census data, government documents, statistics, etc. 

Not on the web: Many Stout-mission-specific journals (ex: graphic design journals with paper samples), most books (have some ebooks), many of the specialized encyclopedias, etc.

>  Be specific.  Identify sources students should and should not use.

Define what is an acceptable "web" resource.  Students are often confused and think they cannot use the library's online databases.  Also, when some information is only available on the web (2000 census) they may need to use web resources.  Some guidelines: use articles found in library databases or subscription encyclopedias (Credo Reference but not wikipedia); articles from a professional association, statistics from a government site, etc.

>  Teach research methodology when appropriate. 

Use the Library's Research Tutorial for assistance in choosing and refining a topic, finding and evaluating resources, and citing resources.

>  Try out the assignment yourself to make sure it can be completed realistically.

Does the library have the necessary resources?  Will there be enough resources for all students (few books all checked out by one person)? Should some materials be put on Reserve for all to use?  Will there be enough time allowed if requesting materials through interlibrary loan?  Are journal citations in your bibliographies correct? 

>  Incorporate critical thinking into your assignments in as many places as possible.

Use the Library's Evaluating Resources website for guidelines on authority, relevancy and purpose, currency, structure, etc.

From: Creating Effective Library Assignments PDF University Libraries of Notre Dame