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Information Literacy Program: Lack of depth, specificity, and creativity in research

What causes the problem?

  • Used to easy, non-strategic search in everyday life 
  • Difficulty reading and synthesizing scholarly sources 
  • Lack of understanding of why to use sources in writing
  • Lack of understanding of disciplinary conventions of evidence 
  • Lack of motivation and persistence  
  • Tendency to revert to safe, known sources 
  • Lack of understanding of the need for multiple perspectives
  • Tendency to treat research as fact-finding rather than as inquiry
  • Poor skills in navigating information systems
  • Tendency towards using information that is good enough rather than just right

Low stakes learning activities 

  • Take a good example of research-based writing in the discipline, and have students discuss the types of sources that were used, and why and how they were used. 
  • Pair up students and have them take turns sharing the research they have collected for their project. Students will comment on whether they find the evidence to be compelling and discuss any unanswered questions or missing perspectives. 
  • Have students create a concept map of their research with related subtopics, questions to be answered, related disciplines, and possible stakeholders. Help them connect these with possible resources. 
  • Provide a short list of sources that students must use in a short, source-based writing assignment. For each source, provide a reading guide with context about the reading, definitions, information about the genre, etc. 
  • Have students create an annotated bibliography for their assignment that includes a summary of each source and how it functions within their paper. 

 
Assignment design tweaks 

  • Have staged deliverables from students for the research assignment in order to deliver feedback on poor research. 
  • Include a line in your rubric that specifically rewards relevant and creative research. 
  • Require fewer sources but emphasize deep understanding and integration with the argument. 
  • Set up the assignment as a problem-focused task with real world implications. 

 
Librarian support services 

  • Librarian-led instruction session on any of the following: choosing and refining a topic, strategies for searching, database skills, recognizing and using disciplinary resources, brainstorming for research 
  • Help with facilitating the low stakes learning activities 
  • One-on-one help for students