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Information Literacy Instruction

Overview of information literacy instruction services available to Stetson faculty.

Tips for info lit and research assignments

Tips for improving information literacy learning in your assignments

Most students have limited library research experience. Here are some tips for creating research assignments that are successful learning experiences for students.


  • Consider learning outcomes related to a research assignment. Information literacy includes the ability to collect, evaluate, and ethically use information. What research skills do you want students to develop? Be sure to discuss with students the importance of those skills.
  • Consider scaffolding an assignment. This provides an opportunity to mentor students throughout the research process.  Preliminary assignments might include a research proposal, an annotated bibliography, or a draft.
  • Meet with a librarian to:
    • Ensure that your assignment makes good use of available resources.
    • Familiarize yourself with library services available to support your students throughout the research process.
    • Discuss a customized Research Guide for your course.
    • Discuss scheduling a customized library session with a librarian.
  • Test the assignment. Is it doable with the resources available to your students?  Librarians can assist with this and provide feedback.
  • Explain the assignment clearly and in writing. Be sure to include:
    • The type, number, and quality of sources that you expect.
    • Specific resources that may be useful for finding background information or identifying research topics.
    • Recommended research tools, such as link to a library research guide that is relevant to your course subject: Research Guides.
    • Library contact information for research help: Ask a Librarian, Schedule a Research Consultation.


  • Overestimate students’ research skills. Your students may not have prior experience with scholarly journals, monographs, library databases, or academic libraries. Top responses to the question “What parts of research do you find most challenging?” in library instruction sessions include: understanding professor’s guidelines, finding sources, evaluating sources, choosing a topic.
  • Assume that students will be able to identify a scholarly article. Spend time in class discussing how research is produced and disseminated in your discipline and how you expect your students to participate in academic discourse in the context of your class.
  • Use vague language in your assignment description without unpacking it. For example, don’t tell students to find “credible” sources without talking about what that means for your assignment.
  • Set arbitrary restrictions that are unclear or inappropriate to the assignment, such as “don’t use the internet.” Most journals are online and most databases include some full-text articles.
  • Require use of “primary sources” without defining what this means for your assignment or your discipline. Provide examples of primary sources that are appropriate for the assignment and discuss them in class.

Annotated Bibliographies

What do students get out of an annotated bibliography assignment?

  • An early start on a research assignment
  • Experience with library research and with citing sources
  • Practice in evaluating sources and thinking about how those sources fit into their research project
  • Feedback from the professor about the topic, research question, and citations

Preventing Plagiarism

Scaffold assignment design

  • Create preliminary assignment(s) that require students to report progress or to cite sources (e.g., annotated bibliographies, outlines, etc.)​
  • Have students hand in a draft before the final version is due
  • Incorporate a peer review process into the assignment

Outline reasons for citing sources

  • Present citing sources as participating in a scholarly conversation
  • Shows respect to the cited authors ​
  • Citing lends credibility to your writing
  • Allows the reader to find the sources you cite

Include information about plagiarism in your syllabus and assignments

  • Give definitions and examples of plagiarism
  • Indicate why plagiarism is unacceptable including the ethics, missed learning opportunity, and and future expectations from employers
  • Inform students of campus policies regarding plagiarism and academic misconduct

Set an example by including complete citations to books, articles, and websites in your syllabus and on Canvas.

Adapted from UW-Madison Library website Avoiding Plagiarism:

Consider adding one of the videos below to your Canvas page or list the link on your syllabus.

Have a question? Ask a librarian! Email Call or text 386-747-9028.