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Creating Effective Research Assignments

We can help you and your students get the most out of a research assignment. See below for things to consider and resources you can use to develop effective, engaging, and robust research assignments.


Make Sure Your Students Have the Resources They Need

Ensure your students have access to the resources they need to successfully complete their research assignment.

  • Ask your subject librarian to make sure the library has the resources you want your students to use.
  • Ask your subject librarian to create a research guide to get your students to the best resources more quickly.
  • Work with Course Reserves to make sure all your students have equal access to the same resources.

Partner with the Library to Help Your Students Succeed

Our librarians have extensive domain and disciplinary knowledge and expertise, as well as a wealth of experience teaching information literacy and research skills.

  • Visit our Instruction Services page to see what we can offer, from an in-class session to an assignment design consultation.
  • Encourage students to schedule a research consultation with a subject librarian.
  • Remind students to visit a service desk at one of our libraries or send a message to Ask a Librarian for immediate research help.

Create an Effective Research Assignment

Subject librarians have experience designing assignments that teach information literacy and research skills. Below are some tips and suggestions to keep in mind as you develop your research assignment. And you can always get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss your assignment.

  • Offer specific directions and clear expectations – Students have a wide range of experiences with research and with using the library. Be sure to be clear with your assignment directions to avoid confusion or stress. Consider specifying the citation style you’d like students to use, clarifying terms that might be unfamiliar, like peer review, or ensuring students know where and how to get help at places like the Libraries or the Writing Center.
  • Provide context and explain why – Students might have very different experiences with research. Explaining why you are asking them to do certain things or what your goals are for the assignment can help them gain a deeper understanding of the research process, your particular discipline, and information literacy.
  • Emphasize transferrable skills – Help students strengthen the skills they need to succeed not only at Emory but also in their future endeavors. You can emphasize foundational and transferrable information literacy skills in your assignments by having students analyze search results, communicate their research in a variety of mediums, or create a data visualization.
  • Scaffold and vary your assignments – Research can be overwhelming for some students, so breaking your assignment into smaller, varied components and letting your assignments build upon one another can help students strengthen their research skills and provide you with opportunities to check in on your students’ progress and development. You can have students complete annotated bibliographies, write research proposals, or engage in class peer-review sessions.
  • Test your assignment and get feedback – Librarians have expertise in assessing information literacy and research skills and we can work with you to test and get feedback on your assignment. And remember, information sources are always evolving. You can provide the libraries with a copy of your syllabus or your assignment so we can ensure that your students have the resources they need.
  • Integrate the library – Remember, librarians are here to work with you and your students! See different ways you can work with the library.