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Creating Effective Research Assignments: Step 1: Identify Desired Result

Step One: Identify Desired Results

Questions:For the most part, students harvest chunks of information from their sources and patch it together...When we tell them "in order to write about ideas, you need to find good sources and cite them accurately," finding and citing becomes the task." -Barbara Fister, "Sources of Confusion,"

  • What should students know and be able to do with the information resources in your discipline in order to succeed in their field of study?
  • What should students be able to do as a result of this assignment specifically?
  • What are the most important or enduring concepts, ideas, or skills that students need to understand?

More specifically:

  • At this stage in their education, what types of sources can students comprehend and evaluate?  What kinds of sources do they eventually need to be able to understand and evaluate? When is the best time to introduce them to different scholarly sources in your discipline?
  • What do students need to know and be able to do in order to discover the most appropriate and relevant sources for a specific purpose?
  • What do students need to know and be able to do in order to select the most appropriate and relevant sources for a specific purpose?
  • What do students need to know and be able to do in order to evaluate information in your discipline?
  • What do students need to know about the ethical and legal use of information in your discipline?

 

Example

Example:
You teach a required course that introduces students to the academic and professional field of psychology. One of the goals of the class is to familiarize students with the types of library tools and sources that they will need to use progressively throughout the psychology major. Students eventually need to be able to evaluate empirical research in order to inform clinical decisions. But beginning students do not have the subject expertise to do this yet.

Desired Results:

1. Students need to understand that psychologists use empirical rather than anecdotal data to make decisions.

2. Students need to understand that psychologists publish empirical research in peer-reviewed journals and that these journals are often not available for free on the Web, and that the provides access to these journals through specialized search tools.

3. Students need to be able to conduct a basic search and access material in the library’s print and electronic collections.

4. Students need to understand the legal, ethical, and practical reasons for citing the work of others in written materials. They need to be able to identify the elements of a citation and format a citation in APA style.

5. They need to understand the basic format of a research study (research problem or question, literature review, methods, findings, etc.) in order to learn strategies for reading and understanding scholarly work in the field.