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Effective Research Assignments  

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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This site includes a variety of resources to help teachers create effective research assignments and activities for undergraduate students.  On this site, you will find:

Resources at OSU Libraries


Before You Begin

Before assigning research in your class, consider these 3 questions:

  1. Will finding, using and learning from outside sources help students be successful in my class or meet my learning objectives?
  2. What do I want students to be able to do with their research?
  3. What do I have the capacity to support?

Try to avoid...

  • Assignments that require students to use, locate or manipulate something that their library does not have access to.
  • Assignments that require students to do things in an outdated or inefficient way.
  • Assignments that are not tied to course learning outcomes, but that serve only a potential future need.
  • Assignments that do not meet students "where they are" developmentally.
  • Assignments with source requirements that don't make sense for the intended audience or rhetorical purpose.


  • Saying "use the library" doesn't make the library useful.
  • The best way to encourage students to use a research tool or collection is to design a task that is legitimately easier when one uses that tool.
  • The library is not a shortcut. People who use the library can't end-run thinking or evaluating.
  • Requiring something is not the same as teaching it.
  • Students won't automatically understand the connections between research assignments and course outcomes.
  • Research is sometimes uncomfortable and stressful; students will actively try to avoid that stress.


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Anne-Marie Deitering

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Creative Commons License

This guide is created by Anne-Marie Deitering and licensed by Oregon State University Library under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.  You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included. I encourage you to license your derivative works under Creative Commons as well to encourage sharing and reuse of educational materials.


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