Tips for Infusing Information Literacy into your Assignments

  • If Oesterle Library subscribes to a database specific to your discipline, require your students to use it.
  • Ask students to find a book on their topic, read only the preface and table of contents, and write a brief summary of what the author intends to say.
  • Make an immediate follow-up assignment after a library instruction session, requiring students to find one article on their proposed topic, write a correct citation and summary of the article, with an additional paragraph describing the elements of the article that caused them to choose it over other articles (the evaluation process).
  • Make an immediate follow-up assignment after a library instruction session, requiring students to create a bibliography of X# of resources on their proposed topic, including correct citations and summaries of the resources. An additional paragraph should either be required in this assignment or the final assignment describing their evaluation of each resource.
  • Add a requirement to your assignment specifying what types of resources should be used and how many of each. Consider stipulating a variety of resources and limiting use of web sites.
  • Spell out the information literacy goals your assignment will address.
  • Sequence assignments blending topic with increasingly complex information literacy elements.
  • Design assignments to focus on the resource materials.
  • Require students to use at least one article from a journal to which Oesterle Library subscribes. No online full-text allowed.
  • Require that students use a reference book appropriate to their topic – can have them copy one page of article or the chart or table to prove they used it.

Pitfalls to Avoid in Designing Assignments

  • Don’t assume too much about your students’ library skills. 21st century research is complex and most students need several review sessions on using standard library research tools before they “get it.” Consider scheduling an instruction session with your library liaison to address the research needs of your assignment.
  • Check the library catalog and databases to make sure any resources you require students to use are available in Oesterle Library.
  • “Test drive” the assignment, bearing in mind that your students’ experience level gives them a different perspective in carrying out the requirements of the assignment.
    • You may require five “sources.” Many students don’t know what a “source” is and may unnecessarily limit themselves to only books, etc.
    • Do they know the difference between a magazine and a journal?
    • Do they know the difference between the Internet, the Web, and online databases?
  • Revisit your assignments each year, looking for relevant additions to the library resources as well as those that are no longer available.
  • If your entire class will be researching the same topic, consider putting the most important relevant resources on Reserve so that all students have a chance to use them.

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