by Rebecca Hyde, Research & Instruction Librarian, Pius XII Memorial Library
It’s easy to assume students learn about research and library resources before they ever get to your class, but think about the last time you assigned a research project. Were you happy with the quality of the information and the sources your students used? Could your students differentiate between a primary and secondary source? Did you have to field multiple questions about what resources were relevant or appropriate?
Students struggling to find sources for a research assignment may never tap into library resources. They’re starting their research on Google and may be finishing it there. In addition to missing out on top quality resources, the students’ research strategy is often inefficient and they may lack crucial information evaluation skills. Every department is assigned a faculty research librarian who can partner with you to help address these kinds of issues.
In a research intensive course, consider asking your subject librarian to guest lecture for a class or a series of classes. This allows for research instruction specific to the subject and assignment, as well as time for the students to get hands-on practice while an expert is available to answer their questions. Even those students who have attended an introduction to library resources aren’t necessarily fluent in research practices or sources specific to their major and they probably aren’t aware there is a librarian with expertise in their field available to help guide them through the research process.
Think of the class visit with a research librarian as a refresher for you, too! It’s probably not in your schedule to keep up on all the latest resources available to you through the library, or the hottest new digitization project, data repository or research tool that may save you significant time in your own research.
If your course does not have a significant research component, but you want to instill research knowledge and practices for future courses in the major; consider collaborating with your librarian on an assignment to build the students’ research skills in ways that are relevant to your field. Faculty research librarians can provide advice, be a sounding board for your ideas or work with you to develop assignments that meet your course learning objectives related to information literacy and research.
For all your classes, consider including the contact information for your department’s research librarian in the syllabus. Most students do not know what a librarian can do to assist them in finding quality sources, but they value the opinion of their professors and with your suggestion they are more likely to seek out help from a research librarian.
Rebecca Hyde is a faculty research & instruction librarian at Pius XII Memorial Library. She is the subject librarian for Political Science, Urban Planning and Real Estate Development, Government Information, and the School for Professional Studies.