Information Literacy and Library Research Assignments at Oakton

As an academic library that supports the mission of the College, we are particularly proud of the rich and varied resources available in both print and electronic resources. The Library can enhance and support the classroom experience and provide students with many opportunities for extending their reach and expanding their information universe.

Well designed research assignments that support the goals and objectives of an assignment are an effective way to introduce students to the instructional and support services of an academic library. In addition, effective assignments can promote critical thinking skills, offer students the opportunity to reap the rewards of information literacy and prevent plagiarism and cyber-plagiarism. Consequently, t
he Library's instructional services focuses on teaching and reinforcing a set of critical thinking skills involving the use of information especially as it pertains to the resources available in the Oakton Library and on the Library's web site.

What is information literacy?
Information literacy is the ability to recognize a need for information and then locate, evaluate and effectively use information from a variety of sources and formats to satisfy the need. I
nformation literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning and is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. Information literacy enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning. Today's information literate student has acquired the skills to begin to successfully navigatate the incredible, and oftentimes overwhelming, amount of information available in print and electronic formats. See Why Information Literacy? that was featured in the August 2001 issue of the NEA Advocate.

How can the Oakton Library help with research assignments?
Since the Oakton Library complements the research needs and interests of a wide and diverse audience, we support information literacy and the educational mission of the College in several ways through the following suite of instructional services.
Reference Services
Library faculty are available to give general instruction in the use of the Library, answer reference questions, and help locate materials for research. E-mail reference services offers brief answers to questions and provides tips on jump-starting research projects.
Research Consultations
Students can learn how to best use the Library by scheduling a research consultation with a library faculty member. During these one-on-one sessions, strategies are suggested for finding, evaluating, and using information in both traditional and electronic formats. A consultation can be completed in 30-45 minutes.
The Library faculty offer workshops throughout the year that promote critical thinking skills and cover a variety of topics. Go Digital! workshops focus on web and electronic research and are open to the campus community. Classroom faculty can schedule and collaborate on customized workshops that complement specific class-based assignments. In addition, we can create research guides tailored to your class and suggest materials for reading lists.
This research guide is available on the Library's website and provides online instruction in the appropriate use of web and library resources. It includes a variety of links that support and complement class assignments, and also provides techniques on effective research strategies.
Research in the Information Age (NEW! Fall 2004)
This 2 credit course aims to acquaint students with the basics of information literacy including finding, evaluating and using information in print and electronic formats. Students will learn about the flow of information in a variety of disciplines and strategies and techniques for accessing information in electronic databases and via the Internet. Instruction will also focus on the practical, social and ethical issues relating to information including those specifically relating to copyright and cyberplagiarism.

The Research Paper Across the Curriculum
Critical thinking and encouraging the development of information literacy skills should be the cornerstones of any research assignment. Although the research paper has been the most commonly used method of evaluation, it also can be the most intimidating for students with little or no experience in using an academic library and in the reseach process. When students are faced with an assignment that is confusing and or beyond their skill level, plagiarism and the online counterpart commonly called cyber-plagiarism are often solutions.

Here you will find journal articles and websites that address best practices for teaching the research paper or an alternative assignment to the research paper. These best practices include creating effective assignments, alternatives to the research paper and solutions and strategies for preventing plagiarism and cyberplagiarism.

Most of these alternatives are designed with a critical thinking component and integrate some of the higher level thinking skills outlined in Bloom's Taxonomy created by educator Benjamin Bloom in 1956. These skills include the ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate and are the foundation of the information literacy initiatives promoted by the American Library Association and the Association of College & Research Libraries.

Consider these alternatives and suggestions when designing research assignments. Collaborate with a librarian in developing assignments for your students. Schedule a research workshop for your class!

Creating Effective Library Assignments
Library research assignments can help students integrate higher level thinking skills including
the ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information.
Creating An Effective Library Research Assignment
website from the Library, College of DuPage
Designing Assignments that Contain Writing and Research
website from the Library, University of Maryland
Integrating Brain-based Strategies into Library Research Assignments
article from Academic Exchange Quarterly, Winter 2002
Integrating Information Literacy into the Learning Outcomes of Academic Disciplines:
A Critical 21st-Century Issue

article from College & Research Libraries News, October 2003
Library Assignments: Challenges that Students Face and How to Help
article from College Teaching, Spring 2001

Navigating the Library: What Students (and Faculty) Need to Know
article from College Teaching, Spring 2003

Process-Based Assignments: How Promoting Information Literacy Prevents Plagiarism."
article from College & Undergraduate Libraries 2003 10 (1):39-51
(Note: Request this article through the Library's Interlibrary Loan department)

Alternatives to The Research Paper
Alternative assignments can help to minimize the risk of plagiarism, reduce the time required for grading and provide students with opportunities to respond creatively to something new.
Assignments to Teach Information Literacy
website from the Library, Kirtland Community College
Ideas for Library Research Assignments
website from the Library, College of DuPage

Term Paper Alternatives
website from the Library, University of California, Berkeley

Term Paper Alternatives: Ideas for Information-Based Assignments
website from the Library, King's College

Plagiarism and Cyberplagiarism: An Ounce of Prevention
When students are faced with an assignment that is confusing and or beyond their skill level, plagiarism and/or cyber-plagiarism are often the solutions.
Confronting PLAGIARISM: How Conventional Teaching Invites Cyber-cheating
article from Change, May/June 2004

Forget About Policing Plagiarism. Just Teach.
article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 16, 2001
Guide to Plagiarism and Cyber-Plagiarism: Resources for Faculty
website from the Library, University of Alberta

Plagiarism & Cyber-Plagiarism:A Guide to Selected Resources On The Web
links to resources
from College & Research Libraries News, June 2003
Plagiarism: Its Nature and Consequences
website from the Library, Duke University
Plagiarism-Proofing Assignments
article from Phi Delta Kappan, March 2004
"Process-Based Assignments: How Promoting Information Literacy Prevents Plagiarism"
article from College & Undergraduate Libraries 2003 10(1):39-51.

For Further Information: Books in The Oakton Library
The Collaborative Imperative: Librarians and Faculty Working Together in the Information Universe
Call Number: Z675.U5C6417 (DP)

Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom
Call Number: PE1404.B35 (DP)

For Argument's Sake:A Guide to Writing Effective Arguments
Call Number: PE1431.M39 (DP)

Information Literacy: Developing Students as Independent Learners
Call Number: Z674.5.U5I526 (DP)

The Informed Argument:A Multidisciplinary Reader and Guide
Call Number: PE1417.I53 (RHC)

The Plagiarism Handbook: Strategies for Preventing, Detecting, and Dealing with Plagiarism
Call Number: PN167.H37 (DP)

Promoting Active Learning: Strategies for The College Classroom
Call Number: LB1027.23.M49 (DP)

The Research Paper:A Guide to Library and Internet Research
Call Number: LB2369.R585 (RHC)

Teaching Information Literacy: 35 Practical Standards-based Exercises for College Students
Call Number: ZA3075.B87 (DP)

Using Internet Primary Sources to Teach Critical Thinking Skills in Government, Economics, and Contemporary World Issues
Call Number: H61.95.S49 (DP)

Web of Deception: Misinformation on The Internet
Call Number: ZA4201.W43 (DP)

Web Wisdom: How To Evaluate and Create Information Quality on The Web
Call Number: TK5105.888.A376 (DP)

What Successful Teachers Do: 91 Research-Based Classroom Strategies for
New and Veteran Teachers

Call Number: LB1025.3.G51 (DP)

The Wired Professor: A Guide to Incorporating the World Wide Web In College Instruction
Call Number: LB2331.K35 (DP & RHC)


Judith Mayzel
Professor of Library Services
Oakton Community College
Des Plaines, IL 60016
July 2004

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