Information Services and Instruction Functional Team
Alternative Research Assignments
Examples of course assignments that require the use of library resources follow. Some of these ideas were taken from a Library Web site at Ohio State University and others were created by ISI team members at Queen's University.
- Student prepare a short decription of a disease/condition with an annotated bibliography of sources (print and electronic, e.g. videos, Internet) geared to patients. These fact sheets are then sent to an appropriate agency, hospital, support group, for distribution to their users.
This is used by 4th Year Occupational Therapy.
- Students look up publications by and about a historical personality (could work in any discipline!!) and use the information to relate to class discussions/topics.
e.g. Pasteur and microbiology, Best and diabetes, the possibilities are endless. The History of Medicine professor uses this assignment with medical students and has them weigh the information about these people to determine if they should be considered heroes or villains ... or both.
- Review key information tools that provide material on your topic including important Web sites. Record your search methodology for the Web including:
- how you decided on a particular information tool with which to begin your investigation
- the search engines you used and their unique operators
- keyword searches you tried and how you improved them
- criteria by which you selected key Web sites
- how the Web information compares to other sources in terms of quality, relevancy, and scope
- what you learned about the Web that can be applied to future investigations
- Students prepare a lesson plan on a particular topic for teaching within the K-12 Ontario curriculum. Locate a variety of sources - audio-visual, juvenile, etc. - that will help with preparation and teaching of the unit.
- Several weeks before research papers are due, students write critical bibliographies in which they analyze and evaluate a minimum of ten sources appropriate to their paper topics. This gives students an opportunity to organize their search for information and to analyze carefully how each source can be used in writing their papers.
- Students are asked to write a job application letter that will persuade their prospective employers to interview them. Students use information on businesses and industries to select the company and write a knowledgeable letter.
- Students give a brief oral presentation on a current issue. At the time of the presentation, they hand in a bibliography of the sources they used to obtain their information.
- Each student reports on the progress of a piece of federal legislation from its inception through passage into law. Students learn how to locate information through the use of government documents and relevant reference sources while developing an understanding of the governmental process.
- Students are assigned a subject that has been treated in a recent review article. They must then update the review article using the appropriate indexes and abstracts.
- Students do all the work for a term paper except the writing of it. At various times, they submit: their choice of topic and questions to be answered; the types of resources they intend to use; their search strategies for each index or database including what worked and what didn't; and an annotated bibliography.
- Students are asked to design an experiment or other type of research. They must select an appropriate funding agency, estimate the costs involved, and submit a proposal with a supportive annotated bibliography. Proposals are reviewed by groups of students.
- Students evaluate the body of work of a scholarly author (or a particular scholarly work) through the use of book reviews and biographical sources.
- Students find (or are assigned) an article in a popular magazine on a topic of current interest They must use an index to locate an article on the same subject in a scholarly journal, and compare the two articles, answering such questions as: What are the qualifications of the authors? Were footnotes or bibliographies included? Is primary or secondary material cited?
- Students are given a newspaper editorial and must make a presentation that uses evidence found through library research to support or oppose views expressed in the editorial.
- Students use periodical literature to follow the major people in a discipline. What are they publishing? How are others receiving the publications in their field?