Clarity - If students have difficulty understanding what they are supposed to do, they will have trouble doing it. Give assignments in writing (rather than orally).
Currency - Information sources are constantly changing. New sources appear as do methods of accessing the information. Check your assignments each semester to verify the accuracy of your sources. If you have questions about sources contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avoidance of ambiguous terminology - Students are easily confused by new terms and often interpret assignments quite literally. Common problems include:
Assuming most students know the basics
Do not assume that your students have had prior research experience or experience using a campus library.
Requiring resources not available
The materials that Spiva Library owns or leases change from semester to semester. Spiva Library may not own or have online access to the same materials as other libraries you have used. Retest an assignment before giving it out.
Giving an entire class the exact same assignment
Needed resources will be difficult to find at best, disappear or be vandalized at worst. For example, Instead of asking the whole class to research the history of specific company, ask them to research a major corporation of their choosing.
Giving a scavenger hunt
The least effective assignment possible asks students to locate random facts. It lacks a clear purpose, does not teach students to do meaningful library research, and may be frustrating. Librarians rather than students frequently end up locating the answers. In general, these assignments result in a high level of student frustration with regard to using the library.
Place it on reserve - If you have a large number of students using the same source, consider placing it on Reserve so that all will have easy access to it.
Provide us with a copy - If you have numerous students doing an assignment it can be very helpful if we have a copy of it as well. We will then be better prepared to help your students locate appropriate sources. Drop it off at the Reference Desk or email it to: Crabtree-N@mssu.edu
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