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Information Literacy Faculty Toolkit: Sample Assignments

Program Goals

Each academic program at WilmU has specified competencies in the following areas:

  • Information literacy as related to one’s academic discipline.
  • Ethics as related to one’s academic discipline.
  • Three or four additional program competencies as determined by the academic college.

Information Literacy competencies consist of the ability to:

  • Access and use information effectively, efficiently, and appropriately.
  • Evaluate the quality of sources and content.
  • Ethically use resources and technology to effectively locate and communicate information.

The Library seeks to coordinate information literacy efforts with academic programs through the use and enhancement of our digital resources. Our strategic direction is to connect with students and faculty:

Teach Wilmington University students to become information literate.

Collaborate with academic programs and individual instructors to create the best information literacy learning environment for students leading to post-graduation success.

Assess information literacy skills through measurable outcomes to help improve existing IL efforts and create new opportunities.

Increase awareness among faculty, students and administrators of information literacy and its benefits and importance to academic success.

Train library staff in best practices for teaching, assessing, and supporting information literacy skill sets.

Sample Assignments

"Most students lack a seminal understanding about what conducting research means as a form of intellectual inquiry and discovery."  (Head & Eisenberg, 2010)

Research assignments are opportunities to help students develop their understanding and practice of research skills. The following are suggestions from the WilmU Library.

Annotated Bibliography Project

Students will make use of library resources to identify, locate, cite and annotate at least 3 scholarly articles, one book and two internet sites on a pre-approved topic.

The annotation is a "descriptive and critical" statement about the work and its author, not a summary or an opinion of how “good” it is.  The annotation should state the author(s) name and credentials, intended audience, topic focus, any apparent bias, author's thesis, relevance to other listed works, impact on decision to use the work. See for other suggestions on how to critically appraise and analyze a source.

Research a Controversial Issue

Students will compose an opinion paper and include at least one opposing viewpoint and one source from a reference book or scholarly journal.

Opposing Viewpoints is a database with online pro/con essays and links to full-text articles, both scholarly and popular, on social issues. Also included are links to primary source documents, government statistics, and relevant websites. 

Literature Review Update Project

Students will write an update of a review article. Students will select a research topic related to the course, make use of a relevant library database such as Annual Reviews, find a review article on that topic written at least 5 years ago, research recent developments on the topic, and update the information presented in the original review article.

A literature review is a survey of scholarly articles, books and other sources relevant to a particular issue or area of research. A literature review provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work examined. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic. It is not a book review.

Successful completion of this assignment entails:

  • Consulting with instructor on choosing an appropriate topic.
  • Use of relevant books or databases to identify one literature review article that is at least 5 years old.
  • Find at minimal number of scholarly sources, including books and articles, trace recent developments on the topic since the publication of the located review article. Sources should be correctly cited in a bibliography and presented at the end of the paper.
  • Write a review article of no less than XX words that address the following questions:
  1. What is the research question that the original article addresses?
  2. How does the information reviewed in the original article compare and contrast with that in the more recent articles?
  3. What new major developments, information, or ideas evolved as the topic continued to be researched?
  4. How are the recent publications related (Do they agree or disagree on certain issues? Do they address the same issue from different perspectives? Which make the most convincing arguments and why?)
  5. Are the conclusions of the research discussed in the original review article significantly different from recent findings and how?

Compare and Contrast

Students will use the library database National Newspapers to locate and read a newspaper editorial. Students will then search a relevant library database for two scholarly journal articles that support or oppose the opinion presented on the same topic. In their paper students will provide insights about the selected database, keywords or subject headings used, and share about their level of satisfaction with the results.

Researching a Prospective Employer

Use library databases such as Company Profiles,  and PrivCO, Mergent to compile background information on a company or organization in preparation for a hypothetical interview. Locate any interviews or articles about CEO, COO or other executives to understand their education, interests, background, publications, etc.

Locating Reliable Health Information

Assign each student a 'diagnosis' (such as Parkinson's Disease). Have them play the role of patient by investigating both the diagnosis and the prescribed treatment using the library database Nursing Reference Center. Have students prepare a two-page paper to include: a description of the condition and its symptoms; its etiology; its prognosis; the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment, its side effects and contradictions, along with the evidence; and, finally, a comparison of the relative effectiveness of alternate treatments. This can also be accompanied by oral or visual presentations, slideshow, poster session,etc.

Collaborating with a Librarian

Many students are embarrassed to be seen asking for help. Many don't know what kinds of questions to ask of a librarian. Stop in to the library, or schedule a time to meet with a librarian. Discuss AT LEAST three major questions you have about how to proceed with your research. It may help if you prepare your questions in advance. During your meeting be sure to note what is discussed.

Sample Library Assignments from Other Universities

Alternative Assignments

There's no need to stick to the standard research paper. Check out these creative ideas:

Example Library Assignments
From Penn Libraries

Alternative Research Assignments
From San Diego State University Library

Alternatives to Term Papers
From Lawrence University Library

Ideas for library/information assignments
From Memorial University Libraries