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Library Instruction Program

Provides more information for Wichita State University teaching faculty and instructors about critical thinking, information and digital literacies, and library instruction.

Coordinator of Library Instructional Services

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Maria Sclafani
Available via Zoom for virtual consultations- email me to set up an appointment.

How Can Librarians Help?

Librarians are available to collaborate with you to develop assignments that strengthen information seeking skills and encourage critical thinking. Below are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind when planning your next research assignment.

  • Librarians are here to help! Liaison librarians are available to assist faculty in reviewing current library assignments or in developing new information literacy standards-based exercises and assignments that require students to gather, analyze, evaluate, and apply information. Encourage students to seek us out at the reference desk or schedule one-on-one appointments.
  • Merge information literacy objectives with your course objectives. This allows students to develop their information seeking skills and increase their comprehension of course content.1 Many information literacy objectives also reinforce skills that will be needed in their lives beyond college.  
  •  Vary the types of assignments. Assigning an assortment of projects lets students work on different information skills. Instead of the traditional research paper, consider assigning case studies, annotated bibliographies, web site comparisons, or guided research journals. Librarians can help faculty adapt these types of assignments to fit your course content or disciplinary goals.
  •  Check the currency of your assignments. Information sources are constantly evolving and it’s important to make sure assignments require students to use only up-to-date resources. By providing the library with a copy of your assignment, we can help identify any potential problems or comment on availability of resources.
  •  Consider re-wording assignment instructions. Let’s face it, some students need very detailed instructions when approaching an assignment. For example, telling students they cannot use the Internet can cause stress and frustration. Many students believe that the content found in the WSU Libraries' electronic resources, including online journals and electronic books, is off limits because it’s on the “Internet.
  • Integrate librarians into the project. A great way to do this is by scheduling library instruction to help students put the project in a frame of reference. Not only will we help with creating assignments, we can design custom resource guides and handouts for your students. You can also add these and the librarian’s contact information to Blackboard. And here’s the clincher: if you'd like, we can even grade the assignment for you!

It may be time to re-think the traditional library research project. Instead of focusing on having students gather a set number of sources for a standard term paper, look at assignments that teach students how to think critically, how to ask questions, and how to use different strategies to gather information to answer those questions.2 Take the first step by contacting your liaison librarian to discuss your interest in creating assignments/exercises that reinforce critical thinking skills.

1Mahaffy, Mardi. “Encouraging Critical Thinking in Student Library Research: An Application of National Standards.” College Teaching 54.4 (2006): 324-327.

2Cheney, Debora. “Problem-Based Learning: Librarians as Collaborators and Consultants.” portal: Libraries and the Academy 4.4 (2004): 495-508.

Assignment Resources

More Tips for Incorporating Information Literacy

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