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Research Assignment Ideas

Learning Outcomes by Focus

Open each tab to see a list of learning outcomes. Each outcome comes from one of three authoritative sources in information literacy. Create a small assignment or class activity which focuses on specific skill or combine multiple skills into a larger project or assignment.

Global Learning Outcomes
G3: Integrated Disciplinary Knowledge
G4: Critical Thinking/Creative Problem Solving
G5: Communicative Fluency
G6: Analytical Fluency

Information Literacy Outcomes By Discipline 

Art
Biology
Business
Chemistry
Communication & Journalism
Drama/Theatre Arts
Education
English Language & Literature
Environmental Studies
Foreign Languages
History
Mathematics
Music
Nursing
Pharmacy
Philosophy
Political Science & Government
Psychology
Religion/Religious Studies
Social Work

Full List (American College and Research Libraries)

Instructions: Click on a section below to view relevant learning outcomes for different skills. 

1.1 Students are able to articulate the traditional and emerging processes of information creation and dissemination in a particular discipline (B).

1.2 Students recognize that authoritative content may be packaged formally or informally and may include sources of all media types (B).

1.3 Students are able to monitor the value that is placed upon different types of information formats in different contexts (B).

1.4 Students articulate that their information creation choices impact the purposes of the information product and the message it conveys (B).

2.1 Students are able to locate general information sources to increase familiarity with topic (A).

2.2 Students are able to use library research tools and indicators of authority to determine the credibility of sources (A).

2.3 Students are able to locate physical resources found in the library or through the library’s electronic resources (A).

2.4 Students value persistence, adaptability, and flexibility in the research process (B).

2.5 Students seek multiple perspectives during information gathering (B).

3.1 Students are able to make a preliminary evaluation of the information resources found to ascertain their appropriateness to the information need (A).

3.2 Students  are able to determine reliability, accuracy, validity, authority, timeliness, and point-of-view or bias of information found (A).

3.3 Students are able to define different types of authority, such as subject expertise (e.g., scholarship), societal position (e.g., public office or title), or personal experience (e.g., participating in a historic event) (B).

3.4 Students are able to identify the purpose and audience of possible resources (such as scholarly vs. popular vs. professional) (A).

3.5 Students can identify the sponsor, organization, or institution that provides support for a source (C).

3.6 Students are able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources and how each would be used in a discipline (A).

4.1 Students  are aware of the legal and ethical use of information resources (B).

4.2 Students value the skills, time, and effort needed to produce knowledge (B).

4.3 Students know what bibliographic information is needed to cite a source (B).

4.4 Students are able to find documentation guidelines for various documentation styles (B).

4.5 Students are able to convert bibliographic information into style format for a particular discipline (B).

5.1 Students are able to summarize or compare and contrast main ideas found in information resources (A).
5.2 Students take responsibility for critically evaluating and explaining a sources' authority to one's audience when stating and standing by their claims (C).
5.3 Students identify the contribution that particular articles, books, and other scholarly pieces make to disciplinary knowledge (B).
5.4 Students can summarize the changes in scholarly perspective over time on a particular topic within a specific discipline (B).
5.5 Students recognize that a given scholarly work may not represent the only or even the majority perspective on the issue (B).
5.6 Students are able to develop a general thesis statement for their topic and to refine that topic to a manageable focus (A).
5.7 Students are able to synthesize the information in the resources found and express the information in their own words (A).

Assignment Examples

Instructions: Click on a section below to view a description of the assignment and relevant learning outcomes

Sample Assignment: Prepare an annotated bibliography about your chosen topic. Find a specified number of sources. e.g. five sources (books, scholarly articles, and/or Websites.) Write brief evaluative annotations. Each annotation must include:

  • a statement on how the source contributed to understanding of the topic.
  • an accurate, complete, and consistent use of a citation style , such as APA or MLA.

Learning Outcomes: 2.3, 2.5, 3.2, 3.3, 3.6, 4.4, 4.5, 5.1, 5.4, 5.7

Sample Assignment: Compare three sources of information about an event or topic.

  1. Locate an article on a specific event or topic from three different sources -Newspapers or Magazines; scholarly or research articles from a journal; Website information (National/International sites).
  2. Compare and contrast the information provided for the event/topic and present your findings as an essay or presentation.

The criteria for comparing sources should include checking for:

  • Accuracy of information presented;
  • Authority of the author/producer of information;
  • Objectivity of the information presented;
  • Currency or date information was presented or created;

Learning Objectives: 1.2, 1.3, 2.3, 3.2, 3.4, 4,4, 4.5, 5.1, 5.7

Sample Assignment: Compare three sources of information about an event or topic.

  1. Locate an article on a specific event or topic from three different sources -Newspapers or Magazines; scholarly or research articles from a journal; Website information (National/International sites).
  2. Compare and contrast the information provided for the event/topic and present your findings as an essay or presentation.

The criteria for comparing sources should include checking for:

  • Accuracy of information presented;
  • Authority of the author/producer of information;
  • Objectivity of the information presented;
  • Currency or date information was presented or created;

Learning Outcomes: 1.3, 2.3, 2.5, 3.2, 3.4, 4.4, 4.5, 5.1, 5.2, 5.7,

Sample Assignment: Compare the search results found with two different search tools or Databases.

  1. Provide a clear statement of your research topic and your target audience.
  2. List keywords or subject terms you used for searching each search tool.
  3. List any filters you used to refine your results.
  4. Compare, describe and evaluate the first 10 results for each search tool.

Consider the following criteria when evaluating each item:

  • The audience of the source (academic, professional, or public)
  • The credibility of the source and the authority of it's creator/author 

Learning Outcomes: 2.3, 2.5, 3.4, 3.6

Sample Assignment: Select (or assign) a bibliography or review article written a number of years ago. Students will update that bibliography or review article with additional research studies published since the article. Students must explain briefly why the new publications which you added to the updated document were chosen.

Purpose: Introduces students to literature reviews and reference sources.  Provides practice in searching for up-to-date information from various sources.  Requires students to apply critical thinking and evaluative skills as they analyze, synthesize, and integrate the information they find.

Sample Assignment: Read two to three articles cited in a research paper.  Explain how each is related to the paper.  Also identify in what circumstances it is appropriate to cite other papers, and what different purposes the citations serve.

Purpose: Assists students in understanding the use of information resources in one’s writing, as well as the relationships between ideas presented in different sources.  Shows when it is appropriate to recognize the contributions of previous authors in the development of new work.

Assignment: Choose (or be assigned) a scholar/researcher to investigate.  Explore that person's career and ideas by locating biographical information, preparing a bibliography of the scholar’s writings, analyzing the reaction of the scholarly community to the researcher's work, and examining the scholarly network in which the scholar works.

Purpose: Introduces students to the use of biographical and bibliographical tools, and exposes them to examples of scholarly dialogue.

Technology-Focused Alternatives

Instead of a written paper, consider one of these alternatives which are also great for demonstrating technology and computer software skills as well as information searching and source use.

Harvard’s Creative & Digital Assignments Guide

Sample Assignment:  Create a web page on a narrow topic relevant to the course.  Begin by conducting research that informs development of the web page content.  Then write an introduction to the topic and include links to major sites, e-journals, discussion lists, and newsgroups. Write a brief paper explaining your choice of sites included on the website.  (The instructor may also want students to include a brief bibliography of important print resources available in the library.)  

Purpose: Students learn to select, evaluate, and organize electronic resources in order to communicate information on a researched topic.

Wikipedia Assignment Guide for Educators

Note: Blackboard has a Wiki option

Students create an infographic meant to persuade or inform a specific, identified audience. Students also subject a list of references used and an explanation for design choices which reflect an understanding of the information creation process and the infographic format. 

Easy, Free Online Tools:
Piktochart
Canva

Students create a video, podcast episode, Prezi presentation or other multimedia product and write a reflection paper detailing the research process and decisions related to the format selected based on the intended audience with a bibliography of sources used.

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