Tips for Designing and Creating Effective Library & WWW Assignments
Tips for Designing Effective Library and WWW Assignments
Consult with a reference librarian before finalizing the assignment - The librarian
who works with your department to order materials, or another reference librarian, can
help you design an assignment to make use of appropriate resources to meet the assignment's
objectives. The librarian may suggest a class presentation to prepare students to use
Clarify and state your objectives, to yourself and your students - What do you expect
students to learn about library and Internet research as a result of the assignment? What
intermediate steps might your students need help with? For example, can you assume that
they know how to look for scholarly articles? Do they know that there are separate indexes
(some in electronic format) for periodical and newspapers?
Assume minimal library research knowledge - The world of information retrieval and
access is dynamic and few students will know what's available to them or how to effectively
search for information and evaluate what they find. Recommend that they attend the "Library
Orientation" series that gives them hands-on experience using the online public access catalog
(OPAC) and some of the electronic and print periodical indexes.
Be explicit and clear with assignment - Give students a clear idea in writing of what
the assignment involves, suggesting types of sources to be used and not used. If specific
titles are required, check with a reference librarian so that complete bibliographic
information is used.
Expect things to change - In the online environment things change quickly, so it's
important to verify the availability and location of desired materials, WWW sites, and even
electronic library services.
Allow a variety of topics or resources. - Providing students with a range of topics
helps to distribute access across more materials. One literature professor gives his students
a list of 20 American short stories to select from for writing a critique, rather than
expecting all students to evaluate the same one or two stories. A history professor suggests
10 professional history journals for students to select from for browsing purposes.
Promote critical thinking. - Design assignments that require students to evaluate information or
integrate the results of their research, rather than use "scavenger hunt" assignments for
which students are unprepared. Most students have no idea how to find obscure
facts, so they rely completely on the reference librarian, and as a result
they learn very little about searching for and evaluating information. Consider
Having students compare periodical articles on the same topic from a popular
magazine and a scholarly/professional journal.
Evaluate the information retrieved from a WWW search for credibility,
accuracy, or bias.
Use the Reserve Materials Service - To avoid large numbers of students trying to obtain
the one required book or article, use the Reserve Service. In addition to library materials,
personal copies, examples of tests or projects can be placed on reserve for your class.
Emphasize respect for library materials - Ensure that students are aware that library
materials and electronic resources are common goods and must be shared by many people.
Refer! - Let students know that the reference librarians are available and want to
help them succeed with their assignments. Librarians can also refer students to nearby
libraries or suggest other ways to obtain materials not owned or available in the CCSF
(Compiled from a variety of college libraries' Web resources)