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Research Assignment Ideas

Based on Chapter 7 and the Appendices in this book:

D’Angelo, B. J., Jamieson, S., Maid, B. M., & Walker, J. R. (Eds.). (2017). Information literacy: Research and collaboration across disciplines. The WAC Clearinghouse ; University Press of Colorado.

 Full Assignment Description For Students .DOC (including 4 mini assignments)

Assignment Timeline

  • Research Proposal (due week 8)
  • annotated bibliography (due week 10)
  • Outline and Draft #1 (first half paper) (due week 11)
  • Outline and Draft #2 (second half of paper) (due week 12) 
  • Required Peer Review (week 13)
  • Final Paper due (due week 15)

Help Guides for Students

Assignment Ideas from other Libraries

These assignment ideas target and demonstrate student learning in specific skills without requiring an annotated bibliography or full paper. 

Instead of a written paper, consider one of these alternatives which demonstrates technology and computer software skills as well as information searching and source use.

Source: Harvard’s Creative & Digital Assignments Guide

Webpage or Wiki (G3, G5)

Sample Assignment:  Create a webpage on a narrow topic relevant to the course. Begin by conducting research that informs the 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 built in the Tools Section

Infographic (G4, G5, G6)

Students create an infographic meant to persuade or inform a specific, identified audience. Students also submit 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:

Multimedia Resource (G3, G4, G5)

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.

Each outcome comes from one of three authoritative sources in information literacy. Create a small assignment or class activity that focuses on a specific skill or combines 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

Creating and Disseminating Information (G3, G5)

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).

Finding Sources & Research Process (G4)

2.1 Students are able to locate general information sources to increase familiarity with a 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).

Authority & Evaluating Sources (G4)

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).

Citing Sources & Information Ethics (G3, G4)

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).

Synthesizing and Using Sources (G3, G4, G5)

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 an 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).


A) ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education
B) ACRL Framework for Information Literacy
C) Carrick Enterprises Threshold Achievement Test for Information Literacy

Journal articles about teaching Writing & Research

Armstrong, J. (2010). Designing a writing intensive course with information literacy and critical thinking learning outcomes. Reference Services Review, 38(3), 445-457.

Bankert, D. A., & Van Vuuren, M. S. (2008). Stranger in a strange land: The undergraduate in the academic library- A collaborative pedagogy for Undergraduate Research. CEA Forum, 37(1), 1.

Crist, C., Duncan, S., & Bianchi, L. (2017). Incorporation of cross-disciplinary teaching and a Wiki research project to engage undergraduate students to develop information literacy, critical thinking, and communication skills. Journal of Food Science Education, 16(3), 81–91.

Mackey, T., & Jacobson, T. (2004). Integrating information literacy in lower- and upper-level courses: Developing scalable models for higher education. The Journal of General Education, 53(3/4), 201-224.

Becky, R. L., Bach, P., & Hong, L. (2019). Learning to evaluate sources: Comparing teaching modalities and student outcomes. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 19(2), 233-252.  

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