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Research Assignment Design for Student Success: Assignments and the New Framework

ACRL New Framework

Categorized by the threshold concepts adopted by the Association of College & Research Libraries for the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (2015).

Assignments and The New Framework

Scholarship as a Conversation

  • Have students use Google Scholar to identify a scholarly journal article on a topic, and then identify two sources that reference that work from a different perspective.
  • Using the Library’s research databases, have students compare the treatment of a topic in two different disciplines.

  • As a class, have students develop a list of current events that shaped the scholarly discourse around a topic, or have students create a timeline that tracks the evolving threads of a continuing scholarly conversation around a topic.

  • Have students select a topic in which they have some knowledge of through their studies and then have them chose a venue in which a scholarly conversation is taking place on this topic (twitter, online discussion forum, blog). Have them identify key players and their perspectives. Encourage students to participate in the conversation.

  • Have students compare a particular topic from its treatment in popular media to conversations among scholars and researchers in journal articles.

  • As a class project, have students research on a single topic and post their findings in a collaborative social bookmarking site like Diigo in order for them to understand how research and scholarship work among practicing researchers. Extra: Have them annotate their findings.

  • Have the class research an event and have each student write a “newspaper” article on a specific aspect of it.

  • As a class, contribute to a Wikipedia entry or develop a Wikipedia stub with well researched, credible information that can been corroborated.

Authority is Constructed and Contextual

  • Provide students with two different information formats on the same topic (like a scholarly journal article and a blog post) by the same authoritative author, but do not share the author’s name. Start a discussion about how the information need may help determine the level of authority required. Reveal the author’s name later in the discussion.

  • Provide students (or ask them to find) two reviews of a particular film or book that come to different conclusions. Compare evidence reviewers cite for their opinions. Is evidence used to come up with the different conclusions?

  • Ask students to critique two editorials on the same topic. Are the statements/claims verified or not? Try this in different formats/perspectives (e.g. news media video vs citizen’s voice in a newspaper article).

  • Have students look at a blog, a video on YouTube, a collection of tweets or some other type of social media regarding a contemporary event. Ask them how they would analyze and evaluate the authority of the author of the information. Is it possible to determine if the the author was an actual witness or participant in the events? Is potential (political) bias able to be determined?

  • Have students evaluate the credibility and authority of the course textbook

Assignments and The New Framework

Research as Inquiry

  • Have students create a research question. Compare this to a more experienced researcher’s question and analyze differences. What elements might they be able to learn from to revise and create an enhanced research question?

  • Have students keep research journals in which they note changes in particular research directions as they identify sources, read, and incorporate new learning.

Format as Process

  • Assign students to identify several different applicable information sources that arise from different creation processes related to a research project, and discuss the unique values of each.

  • Provide students with multiple format types (scholarly journal article, blog, tweet, wiki, etc...) on a topic. Ask them to identify how the sources were created and instances in which they might be appropriate for use.

  • For a research project, have students identify the format of the sources they used and ask them to articulate why the chosen formats were appropriate for their information need.

  • Ask students to find sources about the same topic in divergent formats (e.g. newspaper movie review, literary journal movie review, user movie review). Have students compare and contrast the type of information found in each format, and articulate the process underlying the creation of each format.

  • Assign students to transform a primary document into another format like a skit, poem, song, diary entry, etc….

Searching is Strategic

  • For a research project, have students identify interested parties that might produce information about a topic. What tools could they use to locate sources from these parties?

  • Have students conduct a keyword search using a research database. Once they have located a highly relevant article on their topic, have them identify subject headings related to the result. Adjust their search using these headings to see if it improves accuracy of total results.

  • Have students create a research question and extract key concepts and terms to search. Have them compare results in a Library’s research database vs Google. Consider quantity, types of sources, order/sequence of results, and relevance.

  • Have students keep a research log where they record searching processes including key terms, tools used, and sources/results at each step.

  • Have students comment via discussion posts about their feelings through each step of the research process: frustrations, successes, concerns. These could be compiled into a reflective paper at the end of the project.

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