Instruction Services for Faculty




Incorporating Information Literacy/ Research Skills Assignments into the Curriculum

"To include a well-designed library research skills component in your course assignments will help develop students’ ability to find and evaluate information sources and therefore help improve student success/learning outcomes." (Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, Association of College and research Libraries, 2000). The research skills assignments are integral to the student learning experience by actively looking for and locating reliable information, critically evaluating it, and applying it into real-life assignments.

The Literature shows that students who do not have a working knowledge of the university library and academic-level research, continue to try finding information from the Internet, do not critically evaluate the information, and do not find information efficiently.


Information Literacy is a set of skills needed to locate, evaluate, use, and communicate information in various formats. Information Literacy integrates library literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, technological literacy, ethics, critical thinking, and communication skills. (Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).

** For more detailed Information Literacy Standards see Appendix A.
***Check the Library Information Literacy page for more information.



Contributions of Librarians to Student Research Skills Development

(Information Literacy Skills)

The Kwantlen Polytechnic University Library offers comprehensive research skills sessions for courses at all levels which are based on the standards, performance indicators, and outcomes published in the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (recently adopted by the Library). The role of the Information Literacy Program in the context of a teaching library is to enable students to successfully find and retrieve information sources they need to complete their assignments / course work and, ultimately, encourage and facilitate life-long learning. In order to empower students in the pursuit of knowledge, the library faculty aims to teach them the skills of identifying, locating, and evaluating information.

Librarians actively seek opportunities to collaborate with Instructors to integrate and embed information literacy components into the curriculum and are knowledgeable and experienced in providing appropriate assessment and activities that promote information literacy skills development. For further information or assistance with information literacy contact our Instruction Librarian Mirela Djokic at

The information literacy program at Kwantlen Libraries is offered through a blend of services that include library and web research skills classes and course/subject specific instruction sessions, personal research sessions, and research help at the Reference Desk. Group instruction is delivered in a library lab environment and occasionally in an e-classroom at the instructor’s request. Work is in process to deliver IL instruction through online distance learning modules.

The Information Literacy program aims to accomplish the following goals:

  1. To provide information literacy instruction to all students by teaching research skills classes and offer one-on-one research sessions.
  2. To provide course-integrated instruction in collaboration with the faculty and in alignment with course objectives (work in progress).
  3. To offer workshops such as PDSS sessions to the Kwantlen community.


How can a librarian help my students improve their research skills?

The information literacy skills we teach in our research sessions will help faculty fulfill two of the Essential Skills requirements for their courses : Reading & Information Literacy Skills and Technology Skills, contributing to students’ Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills. By teaching library sessions librarians actively supports and participates in the learning and teaching goals of the university. Please refer to The Essential Skills described or outlined in section L. 9 of Kwantlen’s administrative policies


Students will:

Learn how to do research - Librarians know how to organize and use information resources, but more importantly, we are professionals at educating users about effective research strategies.

Become lifelong learners - The skills and knowledge students need to conduct research are vital not only to the pursuit of academic questions, but also to actively contribute to their culture and society. And as such, librarians are a vital part of ensuring Kwantlen students can become global citizens, as well as succeed in your courses.

Use scholarly information - In our information-saturated culture, students are often overwhelmed when beginning a university-level research project. Class time with a teaching librarian and the course instructor can be a dynamic learning opportunity for students to begin their research. In such a setting, course instructors can know that students have started on their projects using good strategies and quality resources. Librarians also produce web-based, course-specific subject guides to complement in-class instruction and facilitate student research.

Avoid plagiarism - Research has shown that many instances of student plagiarism stem from students not understanding what plagiarism is, why it is unacceptable in the academic environment, and how to avoid it. Collaborating with a librarian to educate your students about this issue ensures that students have the necessary information to cite correctly.


What expertise does a librarian have?

Librarians at Kwantlen Polytechnic University have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. This degree ensures that librarians are knowledgeable in the organization and retrieval of information. We are experts in educating users to identify, find, and use reliable information resources for your subject area.

All Kwantlen librarians are involved in developing the library collection, both in print and electronic format. They provide Reference Services for students and teach research skills classes, and know our library collection from the information creation and user perspective.

The library assignment is an important feature to help Kwantlen students become more information literate. Librarians are always willing to work with you to create or revise an assignment. Get to know your subject liaison librarian at



Tips for incorporating Research Skills (Information Literacy) Into Assignments



Purpose of creating research skills assignments

Student knowledge and skills are assessed in various ways in university courses. The following pages provide an overview of assignments that promote information literacy / research skills.

Topic Selection

In order to ensure student success, allow students to decide on their own topic whenever possible or let them choose from a list of topics relevant to the course content. Students are more likely to write a good paper if they are interested in the topic they are researching.

A well-designed research skills assignment:

• Originates from course objectives and/or learning outcomes
• Encourages the use of various search tools and sources of information
• Incorporates critical thinking skills
• Provides opportunities for students to report on progress and to ask questions
• Requires that students compile a bibliography
• Encourages appreciation for scholarship and academic research

Avoid Common Problems:

  1. Students can’t find information because the proposed topic is too narrow – not enough information has been published:

E.g. The impact of binge drinking on Kwantlen student outcomes.

Ø Broaden the topic to: The impact of binge drinking on university student academic achievement

  1. The proposed topic is too broad:

E. g. Why are people depressed?

Ø Narrow the topic to: Main causes of depression in Canadian teenagers.

Consult with Librarians

  • Discuss your assignment with a librarian to learn what library resources are available to support the assignment
  • Encourage students to ask for research help in the Library, use virtual help (Live chat with Librarians), or schedule a personal research session
  • Send a copy of the assignment and due date to your Liaison Librarian who will share the information with all Librarians helping students at the Information Desk
  • Be specific as to how many and what type of sources students have to find (academic, primary sources, web pages?) and the citation style they have to use.

Ask a Librarian to Teach Research Strategies

While most students have basic web searching skills, they often do not know how to find the best sources for their assignments or how to critically evaluate web sites. Students often don’t understand the importance and complexity of research strategies. Searching Library Databases is very different from searching the web using Google, for example.

Librarians are experts in educating students to identify, find, and use reliable information resources for their class assignments.



Sample Assignments

Students' information literacy skills can be developed using a variety of course assignments which are an effective way to develop students' essential skills as outlined in the learning and teaching goals of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. A well-designed research skills assignment provides students with an opportunity to explore and integrate information sources and encourage them to think critically about information sources.

  • Understanding plagiarism in a university setting
  • Differentiating between scholarly and popular material
  • Keeping a research journal
  • Creating an evaluative annotated bibliography
  • Searching Research Databases licensed by the Library to find relevant articles and research reports
  • Finding and evaluating web information
  • Conducting a literature review


Properly citing sources is an essential component of academic research. Students learn about plagiarism, quoting, paraphrasing, and citing sources.

Assignment: The assignment may include pre-test, graded quiz, and practice exercise of paraphrasing.

Incorporates ACRL Standards: 2, 5

Differentiating between scholarly and popular material

This type of assignment requires students to evaluate sources and apply criteria for distinguishing between scholarly and popular material. Students are encouraged to think critically about information and to choose academic sources that are reliable and more pertinent for their research.

Incorporates ACRL Standards: 1, 3

Scholarly vs. Popular journal articles chart.

Research Journal

Keep an ongoing record of the library research you do for an assigned project -- use a journal format. Include methodology, sources or databases consulted, and keywords or subject headings searched in your entries. In the journal, list the sources you find that will be most useful for your research paper or project, and cite them using of the citation styles (APA, MLA, Turabian…). Check Citation Styles on the Library webpage for citation examples.

Assignment: Keep a record of library research: methodology, sources consulted, keywords or headings searched, noting both successes and failures. Professors can provide forms, so students understand how to structure their approach.


  • Provides students an opportunity to practice writing.
  • Provides an introduction to how information is organized, and orients students to Kwantlen Libraries.
  • Encourages students to think critically about evaluating quality of resources.
  • Provides practice using a bibliographic citation style.

Sample assignments:

Research log - introductory
Research log - advanced

Requiring students to keep an evaluative and reflective journal on research can help them better understand the research process and evaluate their success.

Incorporates ACRL Standards: 3, 4

Annotated bibliography

Prepare an annotated bibliography that includes the best, most useful resources on your topic -- include books, periodical articles, websites, or other relevant sources. In the annotations you will evaluate the usefulness of the resource for your particular topic. Entries should be cited correctly.

Assignment: Find a specified number of sources on a topic and write descriptive or evaluative annotations.

  • Helps students develop skills in searching, reading and reviewing the literature on their topic.
  • Allows students to identify a source’s thesis and key ideas.
  • Allows students to clarify a source’s argumentative structure.
  • Affords students an opportunity to imagine how a secondary source might fit into their own argument.
  • Encourages students to think critically about selecting quality resources, and also provides practice in using a bibliographic citation style.The annotated bibliography requires students to develop a topic, search for, evaluate, and summarize relevant literature, and cite information in the proper format for the current field of study.

  • Incorporates ACRL Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Use Research Databases licensed by the Library to find relevant articles, research reports, etc.

Assignment: For a proposed research topic, write a list of keywords or search terms you might use to search for information about this topic. Locate articles on this particular topic by selecting and searching in the relevant databases. Find out which databases are the best information sources for your topic.


  • Provides practice in using an electronic periodical index to access information.
  • Teaches the mechanics of searching.
  • Provides practice using a bibliographic citation style.

Sample assignments:

Database searching - introductory

Incorporates ACRL Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Web searching and evaluation

Assignment: Find several web pages or sites related to your writing or research assignment as specified in number by your instructor. Write a brief (two paragraph) evaluation of each site, and be sure to cite the pages in an appropriate style. Print and submit the first page of each site.

Includes an alternate In-Class Small Student Group Assignment, and a list of essential considerations to help students with their critical evaluation process.

Sample web evaluation assignment.


  • Helps students develop skills in Web searching.
  • Encourages students to develop skills for critically evaluating quality of Web resources.
  • Provides practice in using a bibliographic citation style.

Incorporates ACRL Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Literature review

A literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic (in books, periodical articles, websites, and other relevant sources) by accredited scholars and researchers. Synthesize your results into a summary of what is and is not known on the topic. Be sure to cite the sources you consulted.

Assignment: Review the literature on a specific topic for a given time period as assigned by your instructor.


  • Provides practice in using electronic databases and print resources to access information.
  • Provides practice in scanning resources efficiently.
  • Helps to develop the ability to apply critical appraisal skills to the literature of a discipline.
  • Provides practice using a bibliographic citation style.

Sample Literature Review assignment.

The annotated bibliography requires students to develop a topic search for evaluate and summarize relevant literature and cite information in the proper format for the current field of study.

Incorporates ACRL Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Advanced Database Searching

Provide a precise statement of a proposed research topic and a list of keywords or search terms you would use to search for information about this topic. Select an appropriate database from the subject list on the library home page. Explain why you selected any particular database(s). Carry out the search, and list the number of relevant resources returned. Comment on the usefulness of the results.

Assignment: Provide a precise statement of the search topic, a list of keywords or thesaurus terms (as appropriate), and an outline of search logic. Justify the choice of databases. Carry out the search.


  • Provides practice in using electronic databases to access information.
  • Illustrates the necessity of preparing a search strategy.
  • Teaches the mechanics of searching.
  • Provides practice using a bibliographic citation style.

Sample assignment Database searching - advanced

Incorporates ACRL Standards: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Schedule a Library and Research Skills Instruction Session

Students learn and retain most when they have a need to know. Library instruction is ideally offered to students who are about to conduct research that involves the use of library resources. For this reason, please consider scheduling the session close to the time when the students will begin their research.

Please ensure that students have received and understand the assignment they will be doing the research for prior to the library instruction session, and that a copy is sent to the Librarian assigned to instruct the class.


Updated: 07/01/11 by MD





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