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In addition to providing resources for your class, the library can help your students learn how to research by having a librarian come to your class and go over research skills and resources. These instructional sessions are a tool to offer course and assignment specific research instruction for students. These demonstrations might take place in the library or in your classroom depending upon scheduling and your preference.
You may also contact your campus' librarian directly by email or by calling to set up an Instruction session for your class.
Requirements and preferences
When requesting a Library Instruction session:
Your presence is requested. We prefer that instructors remain with their classes during library sessions. Students are more involved and the learning experience is enhanced when instructors are available for questions and clarifications.
One week’s notice is a general requirement. Because of limited space and computer availability in the library, we can provide better service with advanced notice. Also, the library staff needs time to prepare for instructional sessions.
Library instruction is more meaningful for students when it is relevant to their current course assignments. Please make sure students have a clear understanding of their course assignments before attending library instruction sessions. Ideally, library instruction should be scheduled close to the time students begin working on their research-related assignments.
If you can, provide library staff with your written instructions for specific course assignments. This helps us prepare for library instruction and allows us to meet the specific information needs of your students. We also appreciate any specific information about assignments your students are working on, your expectations, special needs, or particular resources you would like us to include.
If you want to get students involved in doing research, assignments are the way to go. We've put together some helpful hints in designing library assignments to make full use of library resources and student time.
Consult with a librarian before you give the assignment. We can work with you to ensure that we have the resources on hand for the assignment and offer suggestions
Notify the library. Sending us a copy of the assignment allows us to be aware of it and offer help to students if they have trouble, as well as to make sure items are on hand and ready. If a single book will be required for multiple parts of the assignment we can make sure it is on reserve so a student doesn't check it out and prevent others from using it.
Be clear on the differences between internet resources and library databases. Please clarify that a database or electronic journal to which the Library subscribes is not the same as searching the World Wide Web, as many students are afraid to use our electronic collections when they have been told not to use "the internet." If your assignment calls for it, you may also wish to distinguish between the large amount of fairly authoritative government information online and other less reliable sources.
Assume minimal library knowledge. Although many students may be familiar with using some library tools, few really understand the details of research such as how to locate items in our library using databases and call numbers. Many do not know how to use subject headings or keyword searches. Some students are not comfortable using computers, while those who are used to computer use may lack the skills to critically evaluate information online.
Show your students that they can also refer to IvyTilt which is an online tutorial containing seven (7) interactive modules to help them with the research process. It is a great learning and assessment tool. These modules can also be easily embedded into your IvyLearn course or simply accessed through the Library's website.
Research Assignment Suggestions
If you're having some trouble thinking of the right research assignment to use with your students, here is a small collection of examples. You can also contact the library staff for more ideas and suggestions of research assignments for your classes.
Search for a recent scholarly journal article on a given topic. Compare the article content to that of the textbook.
Compare scholarly and popular resources on a topic. Find a reference to a study from a newspaper or popular magazine, such as Time, Psychology Today, Life, etc. (keeping in mind, and reassuring students that these may be found in online subscription databases). Then have students find the actual study in a scholarly journal and write several paragraphs comparing the popular sources with the original research.
Working in groups or alone, examine a small number of items such as books, articles, or websites. Establish indicators of quality, where these indicators are found, and the appropriate use for each item examined. Report findings to the class.
Compare the reference lists of two published articles on the same topic. Evaluate the choice of materials cited by the authors. What clues do the citations indicate about the article?
Students adopt a persona and write letters or journal entries that person might have written. The level of research required to complete the assignment can range from minimal to a depth appropriate for advanced classes.