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Research Guides

Creating Effective Library Research Assignments: Learning objectives

Consider WHY your students should do the assignment

  • What are the learning objectives for this assignment?
  • Set objectives and state the purpose of your assignment
  • Stating the objectives and purpose of your assignment helps your students understand what they will learn as a result of the assignment and how this will help them in the long run.
  • Focus the assignment on the process of finding information which explains a phenomena, clarifies a viewpoint, or defines an issue.
  • Do you want your students to become acquainted with key resources in your subject area? Do you want them to do the groundwork for a term project or research paper? What do you want your students to do with the information once they have found it?
(Credit: Virginia Tech University Libraries,


Consider HOW your students will do the assignment

Include information about developing a research strategy in your assignment handout and your class sessions. A research strategy is an appropriate step-by-step method for organizing a research project, taking into account the kinds of information sought, the corresponding resources which should be consulted, and the continuous need for evaluation of the results.

For example:

  1. State your topic as a question or statement and develop a list of relevant keywords and synonyms. Perhaps create a concept map or search strategy.
  2. Use the online catalog to find books or reference sources on your topic. Which keywords worked best?
  3. Select and search appropriate periodical indexes (you may wish to list particular resources) to find more recent information in magazines and journals. Which indexes and searches worked best?

Research strategies often seem obvious to the experienced researcher but are generally unknown to undergraduate students.

Include the evaluation and analysis of information as part of the research process.

(Credit: Virginia Tech University Libraries,