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Encouraging Your Students to Use Library Resources: Ideas

This guide offers ideas for how to encourage your students to use authoritative sources.

Getting Students to Use Library Resources

Students love Google.

They use Google almost exclusively for research purposes when they arrive as freshmen, because that's what they used in high school. They also like Wikipedia.

If you want to encourage your students to use more authoritative sources, try some of the ideas in this guide.

Actual Assignments

These are assignments that CSUSB faculty created and used in their courses.

All these assignments are variations on the suggestions in this guide.

Source List

If you ask students to provide a list of sources before they turn in their paper

Along with their source list, ask students to write about how and where they found their sources and why they chose them. 

They could write with any/all of these prompts:

  • what research tools did you use
  • what makes this source relevant to your paper
  • what makes this source unique for your needs
  • how many sources did you discard before you decided on these and why did you discard them.

A New Kind of Annotated Bibliography

Ask students to write a critical annotated bibliography (with at least 5 entries) on a topic related to your course or their paper. 

Students' annotated bibliography should include title, author, where published, when published, and brief summary of article, chapter, or book. 

What's new about this assignment? Add a piece on evaluation of sources:

After their summary of each source, ask students to write about the source's purpose and audience and its usefulness to the course/topic.

A Resource Guide for a Topic

Ask students to create their own resource guide that identifies and describes credible websites about their topic.

Along with a list of websites and their descriptions, students explain why each source is useful to research in their topic. 

Important: students must say what makes each source credible. Have them view the links below to help them figure out what makes a website credible.

Bonus: Students can share their completed resource guide with the class.

Declaring a Topic

If you sometimes allow students to choose their own paper topic

  • Ask your students to turn in their topic along with a short essay describing what they already know about the topic and what they want to learn about it.

  • Ask students to turn in their topic along with a detailed map of keywords, synonyms, phrases, names, etc. that pertain to their topic. Provide an example of what this should look like.

  • Ask students to explore an online encyclopedia to choose their topic. Print out/save the entry and explain why this topic is of interest to them. Optional: find one of the sources in the entry's bibliography and print it out.

Subject Guide

Barbara Quarton
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John M. Pfau Library
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First Draft

If you like to have students turn in a first draft

Along with the first draft, ask your students to turn in a reflection about their research process.

Their reflection could develop several or all of the following ideas:

  • what research tools did you use?
  • what kinds of resources (books, articles, web sites) were most useful for your topic?
  • how did you decide if the information was credible?
  • if you had to do it over what would you do differently?
  • one thing you learned about the research process that you'll use again?