OIA Teaching Academy: January 3, 2013Jill Newby & Nicole Pagowsky, UA Libraries
Understand students’ problems with research        Know how to incorporate information literacy        into a course throu...
Image via http://librarysmcm.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/beyond-googling-on-the-job/                Information Seeking Behav...
l    www.erialproject.org
NeedAnalyze                      Access          Use          Evaluate
Individual work: Fill out the top portion of the handoutUse a research assignment from a class you have taught, or one you...
Assignment TopicSocial media in the Presidential campaignLearning OutcomesStudents will be aware of how social media was u...
Scaffolding   Transparency   Context                Process       Embed  Critical                  over       Academic Thi...
l    www.mindbodygreen.com
l    http://creativecommons.org/weblog/page/10
l    Dierk Schaefer: flickr.com
l    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyan_Cat
Group work:In groups of 2-3, evaluate a sampleassignment using the checklist handout
What makes a good assignment?      What could have been improved?            What was done well?   How would you revis...
ERIAL Project (2012). From http://www.erialproject.org/Kelly, M. C., & Kross, A. (2002). Making the grade: Academic librar...
Designing Effective Research Assignments
Designing Effective Research Assignments
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Designing Effective Research Assignments


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Workshop presented to faculty by Jill Newby and Nicole Pagowsky at the University of Arizona through the Office of Instruction and Assessment. Effective research assignment design for student success. Download full PPT for presenter notes with more detail on what was covered.

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  • Students often don’t understand how search tools work even though they seem well-versed in Google, will search Google, not looking past the first page of results and use whatever looks mostly acceptable. If the search process starts to feel too complicated or the sources are too much to read, often times, they will then change their focus to make the research portion easier. This is problematic, and oftentimes faulty assignment design can contribute to these bad behaviors and not teach students about information literacy and critical thinking in their research.
  • From ERIAL (Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries)2-yr, 5 campus ethnographic studyStudents’ study habits are worse than librarians (and faculty) thought“Both professors and librarians are liable to project an idealistic view of the research process onto students who often are not willing or able to fulfill it.”Students love Google, but have poor skills when using it“Satisficing” … fastest/easiest route to results, even will change topic to make it easier to find simple articlesStudents reluctant to ask librarians for help, feel more comfortable w/ professors because of relationships built, so assignments must be strong for success, and because “relationships with professors… determine students’ relationships with libraries,” working with librarians to design the assignment or to pull together resources can greatly develop students’ abilities to use the library
  • http://projectinfolit.org/pdfs/PIL_fall2012_workplaceStudy_FullReport.pdfFrom PIL, one study (“How college graduates solve information problems once they join the workplace” 2012) examining employers perceptions of recent grads/new employees in the workplace – students are not equipped to :Assignments too structured, students not able to comprehend and complete, too complexWe aren’t doing our students any favors by giving them highly structured research assignments.Although I think we’d all agree that students in lower level courses need the kind of practice that structured research-based assignments provide, at the upper-level students do need to practice some higher-order thinking skills. Telling senior students to include a set number of certain kinds of sources in a specific length of a research paper doesn’t prepare them for the the kind of open-ended, problem-based research they will be doing in their future jobs. Recent grads routinely mentioned that on the job, research tasks were assigned with little structure or direction but with a much tighter deadline.Difficulty synthesizing information, trying to find info/answer as quickly and easily as possibleReluctance to being social in research work
  • “Information commonly increases uncertainty in the early stages of the search process. Increased uncertainty indicates a zone of intervention for intermediaries and system designers.”Giving students a ‘dirt-view’ of research so they see they aren’t failing when they run into obstacles can help. Explaining how research works in various fields and how a faculty member conducts research would be helpful. “When, for whatever reason, selection is delayed or postponed, feelings of anxiety are likely to intensify until the choice is made.”Be clear in topic parameters, give examples, etc.“ Information searching is traditionally portrayed as a systematic, orderly, and rational procedure rather than the uncertain, confusing process that users commonly experience.  After the search is completed, the topic understood, and the problem solved, a person may look back and deny the chaos and confusion that was actually experienced in the process. A gap exists between users’ expectations in information use and search design.”
  • You may have heard the phrase ‘Information Literacy” these are standards established by the Association of College and Research Libraries in 2000 and were also endorsed by the American Association for Higher Education. The ACRL IL standards describe outcomes for students and learners at any age who can be considered information literate or fluent in information finding and use. Broadly the Information Literacy standards can be summarized using the following categories:When someone is cognizant of a need for information and is able to appropriately locate or access that information using appropriate search words, knows where to look for that specific information. Is able to evaluate the authenticity, accuracy, currency and objectivity of the information and is then able to analyze and synthesize that information in a coherent fashion, whether it be a research paper, data, images, etc. All of this takes place with an understanding of the ethical and legal use of information.
  • Complete the Designing an Effective Research Assignment down to Final Version - You will have 10 minutes to do this work. After 10 min: Was this easy for you to do? Where did you get stuck? See following slide for examples.
  • Useful to walk through the assignment yourself to see what students must be able to do. Show example. We hope this has been a useful introduction to thinking about your research assignment and what students need to be able to do from an information literacy perspective.Other things to think about when assigning a library research project/ or paper that we have experienced in the Library:The shot in the dark – where students working from incomplete or incorrect resource lists; assigned materials are not owned by the Libraries; vague topics are assigned or approved.Students will get frustrated and again assume incorrectly the Libraries do not have the information they need.The needle in the haystackStudents are sent to the Libraries to find obscure facts.A library scavenger hunt or treasure hunt, unless focused on the research process and the use of the information found, is usually an exercise in futility- and students will realize this quickly.(From Making the Grade…)
  • What we would like to do now is spend some time talking about best practices for designing research assignments.
  • Scaffolding: chunking assignments to cover different steps of the research process and the assignment, and explaining how these processes workThis helps alleviate one of the common problems that can be seen in Libraries – where a large class is looking for one piece of information, researching one topic or using a limited list of books or media.When this happens:Resources will disappear quickly- either they will be taken off the shelf or checked out. Both scenarios prevent other students from completing the assignment and they will form the incorrect impression that they will never be able to find information in the Libraries.Better to provide 2 or more smaller assignments that add up to the final research paper.Part 1:Assign database tutorial, such as how to search ASC and Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial. Ask students to search a specific Library database and create an annotated bibliography of 5 citations on a topic covered in the course. Part 2:Ask students to use the citations in a short research paper that summarizes their research and ask students to peer review each other’s work.
  • Transparency: clarity, but also, thinking through what it is you want students to do:We know where students are most likely to go to Google first when researching their topic. How can we show them that to locate credible and research-based sources that the Library should be the first place to look for information instead of the last place if at all?Since we’re talking about transparency, instead of saying “go to the library” – refer them to a specific Library subject guides {link to Subject Guides and Library Tools Tab} so they have a landmark or place to startDo you want your students to become acquainted with key resources in your subject area? Do you want them to do the groundwork for a term project or research paper? What do you want your students to do with the information once they have found it? (from Virginia Tech)Resource lists give students somewhere to start by suggesting specific sources (or types of resources) for a particular assignment. Make sure you provide accurate information! (from Virginia Tech)
  • Context: framing research as conversation, and explaining how the research process works, tying it into the Kuhlthau model where there is doubt and uncertainty in the beginning but that confidence builds as you move towards locating the information you need – but it is also an iterative process.Focus the assignment on the process of finding information which explains a phenomena, clarifies a viewpoint, or defines an issue. (from Virginia Tech)
  • “These findings should give instructors pause. Students indeed are listening to mandates about using scholarly sources. They are listening so much that sometimes just finding scholarly sources is seemingly sufficient. Even if referencing them does not make good sense for a given research or research-writing task, they do so anyway” (Purdy) Relevance: scholarly not always bestContext: source’s value in rhetorical contexts differsShould be able to evaluate scholarly and credibility of sources on their own w/o relying so heavily on instructors and librariansTeach how scholarly work influences their lives (show use of discipline-specific research and final products)Critical Thinking: evaluating sources, helping students learn how to evaluate the accuracy and objectivity of an information source, which means knowing the differences between schol/pop, primary/secondary, etc. and beyond (and tie it back to ERIAL that most students have no idea there are even these differences to consider)This could translate into requiring annotations (critical interpretations) to bibliographies, comparing different accounts of the same event, judging criticism or opinions against one's own views, etc.
  • Process over perfection: the process of research and students being reflective can serve them better than trying to churn out a “perfect” research paper with proper citations, etc.Alternatives to get process…Annotated bibliographiesComprehensive book reviewsReal life, practical, situational assignmentsComparisons between a popular magazine article and a scholarly journal article on the same topicResearch guides that introduce new majors to the information resources and research strategies in their subject field.Comparisons of different accounts of the same event(Making the grade….)
  • Using alternative models to papers helps cut down on plagiarism (ideas from previous slide)But main problem = students don’t seem to really understand what plagiarism isInclude in assignment handout and/or discuss in class the difference between paraphrasing and quoting (UA Libraries has a very popular tutorial on this: Accidental plagiarism, don’t let it happen to you)Just like with transparency, be clear about what citation style to use and that it’s required, provide examplesStudents struggle with synthesizing information and writing their own thoughts, so incorporating those skills into assignments rather than summarizing or finding supporting evidence for others’ ideas can help them veer away from intentionally or unintentionally copyingShow them how easy it is to detect plagiarism through Google search and TurnItIn
  • Take 10-15 min. to work on this exercise and then we’ll come back for a final discussion about this sample assignment.
  • JillIf there is time – work on making notes on the first handout. (2-3 min)
  • 10 week online course. Course begins Jan 20 – April 7.
  • Designing Effective Research Assignments

    1. 1. OIA Teaching Academy: January 3, 2013Jill Newby & Nicole Pagowsky, UA Libraries
    2. 2. Understand students’ problems with research Know how to incorporate information literacy into a course through a research assignmentDifferentiate between successful and problematic research assignment design Locate resources for further assistance and for contacting a librarian
    3. 3. Image via http://librarysmcm.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/beyond-googling-on-the-job/ Information Seeking Behavior from overlobe on Flickr
    4. 4. l www.erialproject.org
    5. 5. l
    6. 6. lhttp://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
    7. 7. NeedAnalyze Access Use Evaluate
    8. 8. Individual work: Fill out the top portion of the handoutUse a research assignment from a class you have taught, or one you would like to implement in your classThink about issues students have with research and how that relates to your assignment and course content
    9. 9. Assignment TopicSocial media in the Presidential campaignLearning OutcomesStudents will be aware of how social media was used in past presidential campaigns.Assessment MethodsOne page paper with bibliography Assignment DetailsRequirements Must use library resources to locate at least 2 newspaper or magazine articles One page paper Citations in APA format Due in 1 week What Must Students Be Able to Do to Library Resource Complete the Assignment?Identify Search Words and create search Tutorial: How to Search EffectivelystatementsLocate 2 newspaper or magazine articles Newspapers and magazines Lexis/Nexis, Newsbank, New York TimesEvaluate sources for relevance to assignment Tutorial: Selecting the Best Resources for your TopicSynthesize information and paraphrase Tutorial: Accidental Plagiarism – Dont Let itcorrectly into a one page paper Happen to You Cite the source correctly in APA style UA Library Citation Guide
    10. 10. Scaffolding Transparency Context Process Embed Critical over Academic Thinking Perfection Integrity
    11. 11. http://va505nk.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/ben-longs-scaffolding/
    12. 12. l www.mindbodygreen.com
    13. 13. l http://creativecommons.org/weblog/page/10
    14. 14. l Dierk Schaefer: flickr.com
    15. 15. l http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyan_Cat
    16. 16. l
    17. 17. Group work:In groups of 2-3, evaluate a sampleassignment using the checklist handout
    18. 18. What makes a good assignment?  What could have been improved?  What was done well? How would you revise this assignment? Based on what you’ve learned, how will you revise your assignment?
    19. 19. http://www.library.arizona.edu/services/faculty/instruct-services.html
    20. 20. ERIAL Project (2012). From http://www.erialproject.org/Kelly, M. C., & Kross, A. (2002). Making the grade: Academic libraries and student success.Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.Maricopa Community College District Libraries (n.d.). Research assignment handouts: Essentialelements to promote student success workshop. Fromhttp://libguides.maricopa.edu/research_assignment_handouts_workshopProject Information Literacy (2012). From http://projectinfolit.org/Purdy, J. P. (September 01, 2012). Why first-year college students select online research resourcesas their favorite. First Monday, 17, 9. Fromhttp://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4088/3289University of Minnesota Libraries. (n.d.). Improving student research: A faculty/instructor guide.From http://www.lib.umn.edu/research/instruction/guides/FacultyGuide.pdfWeimer, M. (Ed.) (n.d.). Keys to designing effective writing and research assignments. In FacultyFocus: Special Report. From http://uogcde.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/report-keys-to-designing-effective-writing.pdf Jill Newby, newbyj@u.library.arizona.edu Nicole Pagowsky, pagowskyn@u.library.arizona.edu