Design Tips

The Assignment

  • "Why do we have to do this??"

    Make sure there's an objective to the assignment and that the student is aware of that objective (e.g., learning how to do library research in a particular field, developing knowledge of a particular topic).  Explain the assignment clearly, preferably in writing.  Relate the assignment to topics being discussed in class.

  • Avoid the mob scene

    Include enough flexibility in the assignment so that students are not using the same resources.  Requiring all students to write a paper on the same topic means all students end up looking for the same books and articles. Thanks to heavy demand, these items are not on the shelf when each student needs them.

  • Treasure Hunt/Scavenger Hunt/*#($_@ Hunt

    Avoid "treasure hunt" types of assignment (i.e., long lists of unrelated questions looking for obscure facts) for students. Students get frustrated, view it as "busy work," and learn nothing from the assignment.  At the very least, create a list of sources where the answers can be found.

  • One newspaper, two magazines, one website...

    Rather than requiring a certain number of each type of resource, design an assignment that encourages students to care more about looking for appropriate materials.  Otherwise, quantity research will win out over quality research.

  • Set a reasonable due date

    Make sure the due date and time frame are realistic based on the availability of materials.  Take into consideration semester breaks when the library may be open limited hours.

  • We're here to help...

    Before giving the assignment to students, ask a reference librarian to review it.  A librarian can predict some of the pitfalls and roadblocks that will make the assignment overly difficult.

The Students

  • Give them a head start
    • Schedule a library instruction class for the students.  A librarian will talk to your class about appropriate sources for the assignment and demonstrate electronic sources, where appropriate.

    • Develop a tip sheet of useful sources and research avenues to hand out.  Ask a librarian for input.

    • Put key resources on reserve to insure access for everyone.  To place material on reserve, use the online reserve materials form.

  • The library's a big place

    Do not assume too much library knowledge on the part of freshman and sophomores.  The University of Georgia Libraries can be overwhelming to undergraduates.

  • Define the necessary jargon

    Define research and library terms for students.  Many do not know what a "citation" or "abstract" is, nor have they seen an "annotated bibliography."  If you would like them to use academic or scholarly resources, take the time to describe and define what they are.

The Instructor

  • Give YOURSELF a head start

Be familiar with the UGA Libraries.  Schedule a consultation with a librarian to better learn the resources in your field.  Try to do the assignment you've created and review the assignment each semester to make sure nothing has changed regarding library resources.