Tips for Creating Library Research Assignments
A good library research assignment:
- Provides a positive and rewarding library research experience.
- Provides students with basic electronic research skills.
- Is focused and has a clear outcome.
Tip 1: Library Services
- Encourage your students to visit their campus library.
- Include the Seneca Libraries Web site link in your assignment (the URL is http://library.senecacollege.ca).
- Direct your students to the Glossary of Library Terms to become familiar with terms used in the library.
- Provide the library with a copy of your assignment(s) and answer key.
- See our sample library research assignment - you may customize this assignment for your course by contacting your Liaison Librarian.
Tip 2: Choosing Topics
- Assign a wide variety of topics which will give students a better chance at finding resources. Resources may be limited on some topics.
- Choose topics which are related to the course and career of your students. This integrates course objectives with library research and helps develop lifelong learning skills.
- Topics are selected from your course, developed by you and your library liaison.
- Direct your students to use Seneca Libraries' research databases for finding information in newspapers and magazines or journals.
- Do not give scavenger or treasure hunts. These types of assignments are frustrating and do not relate the process to a real information need.
Tip 3: Searching for Books and Audio-Visual Resources
- Suggest that your students learn how books are arranged in the library by browsing the Library of Congress Classification Outline and the Guide to Understanding Call Numbers.
- For finding books and audio-visual resources, direct your students to the Seneca Library Search.
- Encyclopedia articles are available in electronic format by accessing Seneca Libraries databases.
- Send a Recommendation for Library Purchase for materials not available in the Seneca Libraries.
Tip 4: Searching for Magazine, Newspaper and Journal Articles
- Direct your students to use the Seneca Libraries databases when searching for newspaper, magazine, and journal articles.
- Access to abstracts and full-text articles from thousands of magazines, journals and newspapers is available from a variety of databases. Note the different scope, currency and content of each electronic resource. Review the databases by subject.
- Be aware that each electronic resource has different search software and therefore has a different interface. Your students will have to become familiar with different searching techniques for each electronic resource.
- Recommend one or two electronic resources which are suitable for the topics assigned. This will enable your students to understand that they must select electronic resources appropriate to their topic.
- Avoid asking students to use print newspapers or magazines only - this limits their exposure to digitally available research resources and may encourage vandalism and theft.
Tip 5: Searching for Web Sites
- Ask students to find one Web site when searching for information.
- Web sites can be another valuable source of information. However, encourage students not to rely solely on Web sites when doing their research.