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Designing Meaningful Research Assignments
Purpose of the Assignment
- Introduce students to the literature of a discipline
- Demystify the research process and information resources
- Enable students to improve search skills necessary for academic research
- Require students to compare new knowledge with prior knowledge
- Challenge students to evaluate information critically
- Promote academic integrity through the ethical use of information
- Develop students' spirit of inquiry
Characteristics of a Good Assignment
- Has learning outcomes, making it clear to students what you want them to learn
- Clearly outlines what is expected (length, types of acceptable sources, due dates) and how it will be evaluated.
- States what citation style should be used and provides resources or guides for that style, if they are not readily available online or through the library.
- Defines any terms that may be unclear (e.g., peer-reviewed, primary sources).
- Utilizes sources that are owned by Westchester Community College and available when and how you hope to use them.
- Provide students with opportunities to report on progress and ask questions.
- Is provided in writing.
Consider Your Students
Students engaging in research projects:
- Are often far from comfortable using the library and research tools
- Have widely varying levels of research skills
- Usually do not know much about a topic at first
- Will usually take the path of least resistance (time and effort)
- Do not know how to find information effectively, and usually rely on methods that have worked for them before
- Often do not evaluate information well
- Are often not comfortable with academic writing