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Library Learning Information Center


Designing Effective Library Assignments

Effective library assignments accomplish these important things:

    • they motivate students to use the library to find information
    • they need for your assignments they introduce students to resources which are important to your subject they encourage students to use the library for their own needs and apply what
    • they have learned in your class to further their personal and academic goals.

Delta librarians are happy to help you develop library assignments which will support your teaching and assist students' learning.

The following guidelines are offered to help you in thinking about how to integrate information literacy into your curriculum.

    • Define your outcomes. Relate your assignment to the information literacy outcomes you have identified for your course. What do you want the assignment to accomplish? Do you want students to do the groundwork for a term project or research paper? What do you want the students to do with the information once they have found it?
    • Develop the assignment. Focus your assignment on the process of finding information that explains a phenomena, clarifies a viewpoint, defines an issue, or answers a question. Depending on your subject area and the level of your students, you might want to focus on a particular kind of information (dictionaries, encyclopedias, periodicals, book, or other media) or perhaps to find information in a variety of sources. Focus your assignment on the process of finding information that explains a phenomena, clarifies a viewpoint, defines an issue, or answers a question. Depending on your subject area and the level of your students, you might want to focus on a particular kind of information (dictionaries, encyclopedias, periodicals, book, or other media) or perhaps to find information in a variety of sources.
    • Require your students to exercise critical thinking. Pose a problem or question that asks students to develop a strategy to complete the exercise. Once students have found the information, also ask them to evaluate or comment on it. They should analyze it, question it, and compare it to information found in other sources. Pose a problem or question that asks students to develop a strategy to complete the exercise. Once students have found the information, also ask them to evaluate or comment on it. They should analyze it, question it, and compare it to information found in other sources.
    • Ask students to find information which they can use. Avoid exercises which ask them to find information in particular resources such as in a treasure hunt. Students are easily frustrated when all the students in your class are looking for the same material. The first student who pulls that item off the shelf makes it hard for all who follow to find it again. Instead, ask a question which might be found in a number of places and which is relevant to the objectives of your course. Avoid exercises which ask them to find information in particular resources such as in a treasure hunt. Students are easily frustrated when all the students in your class are looking for the same material. The first student who pulls that item off the shelf makes it hard for all who follow to find it again. Instead, ask a question which might be found in a number of places and which is relevant to the objectives of your course.
    • Test your assignment. Do the assignment yourself. Make sure your students have a reasonable expectation of successfully completing the assignment. Many students come to the library seeking a particular book or article their teacher believes is in the library. Get to know what the library has and work with the librarian who is responsible for your subject area. Students who are doing research on a specialized topic may find that there are resources outside of our collection that they need. The reference librarians can help these students to identify where the information is located and they can often borrow the material from another library.  Do the assignment yourself. Make sure your students have a reasonable expectation of successfully completing the assignment. Many students come to the library seeking a particular book or article their teacher believes is in the library. Get to know what the library has and work with the librarian who is responsible for your subject area. Students who are doing research on a specialized topic may find that there are resources outside of our collection that they need. The reference librarians can help these students to identify where the information is located and they can often borrow the material from another library. 
    • Show the assignment to a colleague in your department or in the library. Someone who knows your subject may well have important suggestions to make and a librarian may see practical problems that you overlooked. Someone who knows your subject may well have important suggestions to make and a librarian may see practical problems that you overlooked.
    • Ask your students for feedback on the assignment. Be open to their suggestions and comments. The next time you use the assignment it will be stronger and more effective and more likely to achieve your objectives. . Be open to their suggestions and comments. The next time you use the assignment it will be stronger and more effective and more likely to achieve your objectives.
    • Success breeds success. Students who successfully complete your library assignment will be more willing to use the library on their own. Students who successfully complete your library assignment will be more willing to use the library on their own.

Tips for Effective Library Instruction Sessions

    • If your curriculum requires significant library use, we encourage you to request a library instruction session. Please call the Reference Desk at ext. 9560 and make an appointment to bring in your class. Be clear about what your goals are and share your library assignment with the person who will be teaching the instruction. It is possible for you to bring your class into the library and to work with them on resource-based assignments without the assistance of librarians, but please make an appointment for this as well.
    • Prepare your students for the library instruction. Explain to them why the instruction is important for them to be successful in your class. Give them the assignment before the instruction so that they are thinking about what they need to know and can ask relevant questions. Possibly give students a pre-library instruction quiz - we have many.
    • Follow the instruction with class discussion of your students' experience in the library. Give your students a chance to use what they have learned.
    • Assess your students' learning. Communicate both problems and successes to the librarian who gave the instruction. This information is important for developing future instructions and for the development of your students' information literacy skills. Possibly give your students a post-library instruction quiz - we have many.

_______________________

Delta College - Library (A110)
1961 Delta Road
University Center, MI  48710
Phone:  989-686-9016
Fax:  989-686-4131
e-mail:  library@delta.edu

Last updated: 5/10/2010

 


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