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Encouraging Your Students to Use Library Resources   Tags: faculty  

This guide offers ideas for how to encourage your students to use authoritative sources.
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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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.

  • Library assignments: Challenges students face and how to help
    Presents information on library assignments in college teaching. Factors that motivate students to accomplish library assignments; Challenges faced by students in doing library assignments; Suggestions for teachers in designing library assignments.

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.

    • Evaluating Information
      This is an excellent tutorial, produced by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill libraries, on evaluating various types of sources.

    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.

    • Evaluating Websites
      This library guide gives students things to think about as they explore websites.

    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.

    About Me

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    Barbara Quarton
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    Office: PL-125
    Phone: 909-537-7553
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    Job title:
    Coordinator, Library Instruction
    Research interest:
    Critical information literacy
    Liaison to:
    Psychology, Communication Studies

    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?

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