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GPS Faculty Library Guide: Research Assignments

Developing Research Assignments

Whether you've already developed your research assignment or you're still deciding how to integrate the library into your course, please review the following criteria for effective research assignments. We have also supplied example research assignments appropriate for GPS students' research skills. 

What makes an assignment effective?

Effective course assignments: 

  • Have learning outcomes and provide situational context in relation to overall course content. Explain to students why they are completing this assignment and how it connects to class goals. 
  • Set clear expectations. Provide information on the number and types of sources required, due date, length of assignment, and preferred citation style, if necessary. 
  • Define criteria for quality sources. Provide students with specific criteria for the types of sources needed to complete the assignment. 
  • Define any library terms that may be unclear (i.e. peer-reviewed, scholarly sources, primary sources, etc.). Anticipate students having different levels of library knowledge and experience.  
  • Utilize resources that are accessible through the Kraemer Family Library. Before you assign it, try it! Make sure the topics you want your students to research or sources you'd like your students to consult are available through KFL resources (both physical and electronic). 
  • Provide contact information to get help, either from you or the library. Students can contact the Library Research Assistance desk for assistance throughout the semester by stopping into the library, emailing refdesk@uccs.edu, or calling 719.255.3295.

Information modified and adapted from:

Research Assignment Examples

Annotated Bibliography

Students retrieve and annotate a variety of sources on a topic that relates to the overall course theme. Instructors should provide a list of "instructor approved topics" from which students can choose. Parameters should also be given to the number and types of sources students will need to consult. Source types may include: books, book chapters, magazine articles, newspaper articles, or scholarly articles. 

This assignment requires students to: 

  • use library resources to locate different types of sources
  • evaluate sources based on information need, topic relevancy, and other evaluative criteria
  • practice preparing citations and annotations according to a specific citation style* 

Compare/Contrast

Students compare and contrast two or more sources in relation to a given topic, discipline, or viewpoint. Students can either be provided with sources or asked to search for and locate sources. For example, students may be asked to find a popular magazine article and a scholarly journal article on a specific topic and compare the two based on instructor-provided criteria. 

This assignment requires students to:

  • critically evaluate sources in order to examine points of view, authority, or other criteria assigned by instructors
  • differentiate between types of sources and understand their use within college assignments 

Source Evaluations

Students complete source evaluations using instructor criteria or other established evaluation tests (such as the CRAAP Test) in order to choose the best source to use for an assignment. For example, students are asked to choose a topic that relates to the overall course theme, locate and evaluate 3 websites, and explain which website is the most reliable to use for academic purposes. 

This assignment requires students to: 

  • locate sources using library resources or popular search engines
  • critically evaluate sources in order to examine points of view, authority, or other criteria assigned by instructors
  • differentiate between types of sources and understand their use within college assignments 

*The library does not provide instruction on citation styles. Please contact the Writing Center for more information on instructional support for formulating citations.

The following assignment handouts have been submitted by current and past GPS faculty members and fulfill the information literacy component for GPS. If necessary, the faculty member provided a brief explanation of the assignment. 

All assignment sheets have been shared with a Creative Commons License.

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