Creating Effective Research Assignments: Bridging the Gap Between Students and InformationPresentation Transcript
Creating Effective Research AssignmentsBridging the Gap Between Studentsand InformationAnthony HolderiedReference Librarian
Topics for Consideration…• Purpose of research assignments• Preparing students• Characteristics of effective assignments• Avoiding research pitfalls• Use of library resources/orientations• Types of assignments• New website• Your ideas
Effective research assignments…• Have a specific understood purpose• Relate to subject matter or objectives• Lead to increased understanding of subject• Bring awareness to variety of information sources• Teach students to select and evaluate (overload)• Reinforce habits of ethical scholarship
Preparing Your StudentsTell them WHEN, HOW AND WHY!Schedule an orientationList of specific resources – inform your librarian!
Characteristics of Good Assignments1. Clarity2. Emphasizes process over product3. Correct and unambiguous terminology4. Currency (relevant)5. Reasonable time frame
Pitfalls to Avoid…• Assumption of knowledge• Resources not available• Giving everyone the same assignment• The dreaded scavenger hunt!
What’s the deal with electronicresources?Internet or Web or Online (google, bing, yahoo)VS.Electronic Resource or Database (NC Live, Ebsco)What kind of ‘consumer’ do we want them to be?
Evaluative techniques…• Currency: The timeliness of the Web page• Relevance/Coverage: The uniqueness of the content and its importance to you• Authority: The source of the Web page• Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the information• Purpose/Objectivety: Why does the Web site exist? Is it biased or prejudiced?
Limiting ‘Web’ sources can…1. Force students outside of their comfort zones2. Require them to use critical evaluation skills3. Get them to ask for help!and of course…get them to use better sources!
Role of the Library• Create course guides• Offer research assistance• Schedule a library orientation6.Provide assignment specifics7.Prepare students8.Topic development9.Point of need
Types of Research Assignments1. Use the library reference collection (subject specific encyclopedias, dictionaries, and handbooks, etc.) to discover background information on a research topic. Compare this information to a search in a library databases on the same topic.3. Quote and cite sources in MLA or APA citation style to give proper credit and avoid plagiarism.
Types of Research Assignments (cont.)1. Keep a "research log" documenting where information was found, analyze what search techniques worked and what didnt, and discuss how the material found affected your thinking on the topic.2. Working in groups, prepare a guide that introduces others to information sources on a topic or in a subject field. Use books, articles, and encyclopedia entries available from the library.
Types of Research Assignments (cont.)1. Search for a topic and compare results from a general Internet search engine (Google), and a database of scholarly journal articles (EBSCO/NCLIVE).2. Prepare a bibliography of books, journals and web sites with evaluative annotations.4. Prepare a guide to the information sources on a particular subject. This may be presented as a group project to the rest of the class.
Types of Research Assignments (cont.)1. Prepare a literature review on a particular topic.2. Research a controversial topic using a variety of sources. Discuss how the different types of sources (e.g. newspapers, websites, news magazines, academic journals, academic discussion lists) treat the topic.4. Compare how two different disciplines discuss the same topic by finding articles from the journal literature of each discipline.
Types of Research Assignments (cont.)1. Compare the discussion of a particular research study in the popular and scholarly press.3. Compare popular and scholarly articles on the same topic in terms of content, bias, style, audience.5. Compare two journal articles that discuss the same topic from different points of view.7. Read an editorial and find facts to support or contradict.
Types of Research Assignments (cont.)1. Prepare a nomination of a person or group for a particular Nobel Prize or other significant award. In addition to defending their nomination, students would be required to learn about the prize, criteria for the award, etc.3. Research the publications and career of a prominent scholar. The assignment might require biographical information, a bibliography of publications, and analysis of the individual in their field of research.
Types of Research Assignments (cont.)1. Research a particular company, organization, research lab, etc. as preparation for a (hypothetical) interview.3. Evaluate a web site based on the web evaluation criteria of accuracy, authority, bias, reliability, and currency.5. Compare a number of web sites representing government, personal, commercial, advocacy, and scholarly sites.7. Examine the treatment of a controversial issue in several sources including a newspaper editorial, scholarly journals, periodicals from different disciplines, and trade or association websites.