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Faculty Resources: Designing Research Assignments

This guide provides information about services and resources available through the Cayuga Community College Library. It also provides links to resources related to teaching, learning, and professional development in higher education.

Designing Research Assignments

Take Advantage of Us! 

  • Schedule instruction time with a librarian to teach your classes about the library, its resources, and the research process.

Use Our Resources

  • Select projects and topics that require students to locate and use materials that are accessible through the library’s collections. Librarians will be happy to help determine how feasible projects may be, using this library’s resources.

Put It In Writing

  • Provide students (and librarians!) with a clearly written assignment, including all requirements and due dates. This minimizes confusion and gives the student something to refer to while they are completing their projects.

Limit or Provide Topics

  • For many students, one of the most difficult steps in the research process is deciding on a topic. Providing a list of topics from which they may choose can help to alleviate this anxiety.

Use Course Reserves

  • Let us know about assignments that may require heavy use of limited or specific materials. We may be able to put those materials on reserve in order to provide access to more students.

Require a Variety of Sources

  • Given the option, many students will rely solely on the Web for sources. A more balanced and thorough treatment of most topics is achieved by using a variety of sources, including books, periodicals, and non-print materials.

Incorporate Critical Thinking Skills

  • An appropriate thesis statement, a well-planned research strategy, the critical selection and evaluation of sources, and the integration of those sources into a well-organized final product are all components of a project requiring critical thinking skills. Assignments that are designed to require critical thinking skills also discourage plagiarism.

Be Realistic

  • Remember that many students have not done a research-based project before. They may require more structure and guidance than you realize.

Pace the Project

  • Consider assigning several short projects, each designed to develop a specific skill or objective, rather than one long research paper. If you prefer a traditional research paper, break the project into components due at intervals throughout the semester. This allows you to monitor student progress and provides students with feedback throughout the process.

Time is a Factor

  • Many sources not owned by this library are available through interlibrary loan services. However, allow adequate time for these requests to be filled. And remember: Some items simply cannot be easily obtained in the time they are needed.

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