Frequently Asked Questions

from Rogers Library at Francis Marion University

I'm a faculty member. How do I create effective research assignments for my class?

261 views   |   Last updated on Mar 21, 2014    faculty


  • Are you worried that your students are experiencing problems locating information from reliable sources?
  • Would you like your students to know what kinds of library resources they have access to for their research topics?
  • Do you want your students to understand how to evaluate the credibility of sources?

If so, the librarians at Rogers Library are ready to help you.We are available to work with you to create effective research assignments that integrate library resources into your course content. These assignments can foster critical thinking and promote information literacy for lifelong learning.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Before the new semester starts, make an appointment with a librarian.  We can work with you as you are developing your syllabi and assignments.  We will help you identify appropriate library resources, and let you know if the assignment is feasible given our collection strengths and weaknesses.
  • Request a Library Instruction Session to have a librarian demonstrate to your students how to use the library databases, build search strategies and evaluate sources. Please give us at least one week notice to prepare for your class.
  • If you limit the number of web sources students can use, please make sure your students understand the differences between the "internet" and "electronic library resources." More specifically, web sites located via search engines (such as Google) versus the information retrieved from our online library databases. The latter carries the same content, thus the authority, as the journals and books published in print. 
  • Consider putting required reading on reserve to ensure that all students will have access to it.
  • Encourage your students to visit the library early in their research.

Some common problems to avoid:

  • Waiting until a couple of days before the class to ask for a library instruction session. Your librarian may not have adequate time to prepare, and the appropriate resources and classroom space may not be available.
  • Asking everyone in the class to work on the same topic.  This may stretch the library resources too thin, especially when printed materials are involved.
  • Requiring students to use resources the library does not own or cannot obtain within a reasonable time frame. Consult a librarian to make sure we have the resources for your assignment.
  • Setting unreasonable requirements for types of sources to be used.  Not all topics are covered in every type of resource.  You can encourage a variety of sources, but be flexible!
  • Bringing an entire class to the library without notifying the librarian.  The library has a limited number of computers available for student use.  To make sure your students have access to the resources and services they need, please contact us in advance so that we can make arrangements for your class.
  • Requesting that the entire class ILL items. This presents two problems. First, the timing of having an entire class request items for a aprticular assignment strains our limite interlibrary loan staff. Second, interlibrary loan is not free. It costs Rogers Library not only in manhours and supplies, but often we do have to pay to borrow items.