Creating Effective Library Research Assignments
A well-designed library assignment teaches students valuable research skills and serves as a positive introduction to the VCU Libraries. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when developing assignments that require library research.
Choose an assignment to complement your intended learning outcome. Alternatives to traditional research papers:
- develop annotated bibliographies
- keep research logs
- create poster sessions
- compile literature reviews
- produce individual or group presentations
Sample orientation assignment for Focused Inquiry is an MS Word file that can be used "as is" or can be modified by individual FI instructors as needed.
Instruction in the Library Classroom
Schedule time for your class to come to Cabell Library or Tompkins-McCaw Library for library instruction sessions.
Consult with a librarian to design or review library assignments. This librarian-faculty collaboration helps to generate assignments that refer to the best possible sources, and also lets us make arrangements within the library to accommodate the needs of the assignment.
Selecting Library Resources
Research Guides list important sources in various subject areas. Feel free to print and distribute these, or link to them from Blackboard or a course-related Web page.
Blackboard courses support library research and are open to VCU users. Browse the available courses by entering LIB into the course search box.
Link to full-text articles by including a proxy statement. Add the following to the beginning of an article's Web address without any spaces - http://proxy.library.vcu.edu/login?url=
Suggestions for Common Problems
"No Internet Sites" or "Must be in print": Recognize that most of our current scholarly journal subscriptions are only available electronically. Consult with a librarian to develop an assignment designed to meet your objectives.
Scavenger Hunt - all students complete a list of specific tasks: This well intentioned type of assignment can become a frustrating introduction to the VCU Libraries, as often what the student experiences is not the direct intention of the assignment. Contact the First Year Student Programs Librarian, Donna Coghill, to design a focused information hunt that will expose your students to new resources.
The Mob Scene - an entire class researching the same specific topic: This type of assignment can result in students searching for materials that have been taken off the shelf or checked out. Consider placing resources on course reserves.