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last updated: 10/14/2010

Assignment Consultation

Through assignments, faculty influence students' development as seekers and users of information.  A well-designed library assignment can teach students valuable research skills and improve the quality of their papers. Unfortunately, library assignments also have the potential to confuse and frustrate students because they may not understand how to locate relevant information or think critically about this information. Because we work with many students at the reference desk on their assignments, we often know when and where they are having problems.  Some typical issues are: 

Clarity: Many students do not understand what they need to do for an assignment or how to begin the research process.  Be clear about the goals and objectives for your assignment, and if possible, step your students through the research process. 

Ambiguous Terminology: Students tend to interpret research assignments literally and are confused by concepts that they can not definitively define.  Examples of common problems are:

- Scholarly vs. Popular:  Many students can not differentiate between "scholarly" or "peer-reviewed" and "popular" magazines or journals.  In addition, many are unsure of which type they need to use for an assignment.  

- Abbreviations:  If requiring the use of a specific journal or database, be sure to use full and current titles because this information can change rapidly. 

- Use of the Web:  Students are often unclear whether "web" means all information sources delivered via the the Web (including the Libraries' scholarly electronic databases, e-journals, online catalog, etc.) or only sources on the free Web (via Google, Yahoo, etc.). 

Currency: The collections and services of the IUB Libraries are continually changing and these changes could effect assignments. Sometimes students are asked to use outdated or withdrawn sources. 

Assignment Consultation Assistance:

Librarians can help develop a library research assignment, suggest ideas/improvements for an existing assignment, and provide feedback once an assignment has been given.  For more information, contact 
libinstr@indiana.edu.


last updated: 10/14/2010