The following recommendations are supported by more than a decade of research conducted by Project Information Literacy. Contact your liaison librarian or tutorial services for support in implementing these approaches.
1. Create assignment prompts that direct students toward a variety of print and digital resources, and name the specific library-provided tools or databases that are recommended for the assignment. Link to the library website or these specific resources, or a library-provided research guide, from within your course site. Use Curriculum Builder to construct your reading lists.
Examples: The news database Nexis Uni can be used to explore perspectives on almost any newsworthy topic including social issues, healthcare, business, technology, politics, and science reporting. Students can use the database to critically investigate changing viewpoints over time, or spot how media coverage may differ by geographic location or publication. For students needing a more guided approach, consider assigning use of Opposing Viewpoints in Context first, so that they can see common viewpoints highlighted in context, before moving on to apply their critical thinking to what they see in Nexis Uni.
2. Encourage students to receive tutoring and meet with a librarian. Repeat this encouragement in assignment prompts, on the syllabus, verbally, and by creating incentives for the students to follow through.
Examples: Provide contact information for librarians and tutoring in your syllabus. Offer extra points for having a consultation with a librarian or a visit to tutoring. Invite a librarian or tutorial services representative to visit your class for 10 minutes to introduce themselves. Show the students the "schedule an appointment" button on the library website. Hand out paper copies of the tutoring schedules and ask students to circle the dates/times tutors are available for your course.
3. Provide students with your definition of "research," discuss the research process they'll use in class, and talk to them about plagiarism. Discuss how these expectations and processes, in college, may differ from their K-12 experience.
Examples: Schedule a library workshop for your class and discuss your expectations and the course assignments with the librarian before the workshop. Review with your students the criteria you will use when evaluating their choice of sources. Have students read and discuss brief articles about recent research controversies or cases of plagiarism in journalism or an academic field, to increase students' understanding that these practices are constructed and contextual.
4. Embed a librarian, or custom-made course guides into your site.
Examples: Create a discussion thread where students are expected to discuss their assignment topic idea, reflect on their process of finding sources, or ask questions. Grant permission to a librarian to monitor and participate in this thread. Ask a librarian to create a course guide for your class, embed it into Blackboard, and direct students to use the guide to support them through their assignment.
5. Collaborate with your library liaison or faculty development to design a research assignment that employs critical thinking. Scaffold the assignment, breaking the process into manageable parts.
Example: Instead of assigning a single research paper or presentation on the topic of their choice, break up the process into smaller assignments. For topic formulation, assign a topic proposal, thesis statement, or research question. Assign a "pre-search" or background research activity such as brainstorming and concept mapping, context lightening talk, or refinement of topic proposal. Assign a research log or annotated bibliography. Assign students to critique one of their sources or investigate a scholar or author. Have students turn in drafts or bring them to peer workshops. Try including self assessment or a reflection component in the final product.
These recommendations are adapted for the community college context from Temple University LIbraries' 10 Ways to Improve Student Research.
The full time library faculty at Montgomery County Community College serve as liaisons to the academic divisions. As liaisons, the librarians are responsible for effective communication and active engagement with their assigned academic division.
The liaison is the go-to contact for division faculty. Your liaison can assist you with matters such as; open education resources, planning for a library visit for your class, information literacy assignment design, research support, and building a collection that supports the curriculum in your area.