Integrating Information Literacy
First-year college students often have very little experience with academic research and almost no familiarity with library resources such as books and electronic databases. There are many ways that we can support these novice researchers, including:
Use a stratified or laddered approach to research.
According to Bloom's Hierarchy of Learning, research projects require students to function at the highest cognitive levels, synthesizing and evaluating new information to complete a final paper or product. As shown by this diagram, if students have not mastered lower steps on the "ladder," they will be unable to produce high quality products that makes them feel successful and confident and make grading enjoyable for instructors.
Rather than assigning a research paper at the beginning of the semester that is due at the end of the semester, consider assigning smaller assignments that build toward a final product. (Librarians have crafted a possible timeline and created sample assignments to help you with the design of such a project.)
Demonstrate or describe effective search strategies.
Rather than giving general instructions like "find an article," provide clear instructions including names of specific search tools (e.g. MnPALS, Academic Search Premier, etc.) You might also consider bringing your class to the library for a brief meeting with a librarian or bring a computer to the classroom and demonstrate an appropriate search strategy.
Guide students with clear resource expectations.
Let students know what types of information sources you expect them to use. Clear boundaries help students build confidence and increase the likelihood that they will complete assignments at the level you expect. Include source descriptions like 3 to 5 page articles or articles that include a research methodology rather than providing a list of example journal titles.