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Information Literacy: Integrating Research Activities within the Classroom

Collaborative Approach to Information Literacy

The critical task of empowering students to become information literate, lifelong learners is a shared responsibility of all campus community members. The library is committed not only to serving the students directly, but to fostering relationships throughout the campus that contribute to the creation of critical thinkers. Through raising an awareness of information literacy skills, collaborating with faculty on research activities within the curriculum, and encouraging communication across disciplines, the Research & Instruction Department hopes to build a community that is invested in the information literacy development of every student.

General Requirements to Consider

  • Specify what types of resources students may use and from which databases (e.g., At least three scholarly journal articles and one book)
  • Be explicit about citation requirements (e.g., All outside resources must be cited in APA format)
  • When offering course readings, give students the citation rather than the document itself. This encourages students to use library resources to access the articles (Check with the library first to make sure that they own a copy of the item)


The following are samples of components that can be used with a research activity.

Research Activites

Frequent practice with research activities that incorporate and repeat the process of finding, evaluating, and using resources is crucial to developing information literate students. Regular exposure to quality sources such as scholarly journal articles, books, and government websites via class readings and assignments enables students to recognize and use these sources more easily in their daily lives. Equally important is an emphasis on encouraging each student to think critically, not only about the resources used to complete an assignment, but also about the research strategies and databases used to find the resources. If these components are regularly integrated into the curriculum and supported by both faculty and instruction librarians, students will continue to develop and refine the skills they will need later in their academic and professional careers.

A research activity does not always need to be a formal research paper. It can be any activity or project that requires students to integrate outside information into an assignment, whether to make a point, support an argument, or augment an understanding of a topic.

Here are examples of alternative research activites:

  • Presentation
  • Debate
  • Annotated bibliography (with evaluative or summative annotations)
  • Letter to the editor to a local newspaper
  • Poster
  • Consumer Health Pamphlet 
  • Student-generated guide to the information sources on a particular subject.

Components to Include in a Research Assignment

When students are asked to use high-quality resources for their assignments and to think critically about how they found their outside sources and evaluated the effectiveness of the sources in relation to their topic, then the assignment will serve to strengthen research skills. Adding one or more of the following components to an assignment will encourage the regular application of these research skills.

To Promote Critical Thinking about the Research Process


Post-Assignment Reflection

Ask students to write a few paragraphs reflecting on their experience completing the assignment. This type of reflection encourages students to think critically about their research process and come up with solutions for improving their research skills in the future.


Research Log

Ask students to keep a record of the databases, websites, and additional tools that they used to find their sources. On this document, students can include search terms that they used and strategies that worked or didn’t work well for finding resources. Adding this component to an assignment encourages students to think strategically about how they approach finding outside resources.


Sample Research Log:

Complete document available at:


Single Article Research Log

Ask students to fill out a research log for one of their resources. This is a quick way to get students to explain how they found the item and evaluated its quality.


Search History

In most databases, students can print the search history that will show the terms that they used to find their articles. Including the search history with an assignment allows you to grade students on how they searched and the strategies that they used to find their articles.

To Promote Evaluating Resources Used for a Project

Evaluation Sheet

Provide students with a checklist or a series of questions that they must answer about each resource that they use. This will allow students to demonstrate that they know how to evaluate the resources that they use and that they have gone through this process before using a resource.


Sample Evaluation Sheet:

Complete document available at: