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Florida Gulf Coast University

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FGCU Library Services


Adapted from guides prepared by Texas A & M University and Mississippi State University Libraries, and the University of North Florida Library.


The FGCU Library welcomes and encourages faculty and student use of the facility and Library Resources, in support of the FGCU student learning outcomes related to information literacy and problem-solving. A library assignment can be appropriate in most courses and the library's instructional staff is eager to help you coordinate the learning experience. Before making a library assignment, please review the following assignment tips.


An effective library assignment has a specific, understood purpose. It relates to some aspect of the course subject matter or learning objectives. It will lead to increased understanding of the subject or the process of locating information related to the subject. A library assignment that meets these criteria is an excellent teaching tool that can enhance and enrich the student's learning experience. 


In order to be effective, a library assignment must be implemented in an appropriate manner. Students should be prepared for the assignment, told why they are doing it and what purpose it serves. If the assignment requires the use of specific sources, students should be given a list of them and arrangements made with the library to assure availability and access. If it involves the use of complex sources or unfamiliar research strategies, students should be oriented to these by the faculty member or by a librarian in a customized, scheduled library instruction session. When testing an assignment, try to put yourself in the students' shoes with their experience and perspective. 


If students have trouble understanding what they are supposed to do, they will have trouble doing it. Give library assignments in writing (not orally) to reduce confusion. Placing artificial constraints on the format of resources to be found, e.g. printed journal articles versus online or microfilm articles, confuses students and detracts from the content and quality of the sources found.  Nevertheless, differentiating between the potential use and value of monographs versus articles, between scholarly versus popular works, and between open Internet websites versus published, refereed online sources teaches students to be critical learners.  Provision of the full titles and authors of the resources you recommend will demonstrate appropriate scholarly citation, as well as avoid time-consuming frustrations for students.

Students tend to interpret library assignments literally, and are easily confused by terms they, and the librarian, cannot interpret definitively. Define any questionable words. For example, some instructors differentiate between magazines and journals, while others use the terms interchangeably. Others may require peer-reviewed, also called refereed, journals. Does "library computer" mean the library catalog or a research database?  Does "find an article on the Internet" really mean the full Internet or a research database?

The library is continually changing, and these changes will affect library assignments. New sources and ways of accessing information replace old ones every day. Check your assignments regularly so your students are not asked to use outdated or no-longer-existing methods and sources. If you need help identifying library resources, contact your liaison librarian who will be happy to help you.


Don't assume that your students have had prior experience in using the library. Transfer or new graduate students may have no experience in this library system. Students who have had a general library orientation may not have been exposed to sources relevant to your assignment. Also, basic introductory skills may be inadequate for an upper level subject-based research assignment.
If an entire class has the same topic for the assignment, needed resources will be difficult to find at best, or may disappear or be vandalized at worst. Telling students to "put it back" just does not work. Even the most honorable of students may reshelve items in the wrong place. If it is necessary for a whole class to use a particular source or set of sources, please ask the Library to put it on Reserve. To request items be placed on Reserve, please go to the Faculty Support page and review the section, Place Item(s) on Course Reserve.
Among the least effective assignments are those that ask students to locate random facts. They lack a clear purpose, teach little, and are very frustrating, as they often result in competition for the same library resource. Frequently librarians, not students, end up locating the information. We recommend assignments that require integration of knowledge, taking students through the real-world steps of locating literature and information they need, rather than finding obscure facts. Please contact your subject librarian, if you are planning to give a treasure hunt style of assignment.


When it comes to research assignments, librarians are excellent resources. While a librarian will not create an assignment for you, one will be glad to work with you in developing the assignment, look at a draft, and recommend new resources. Since students will be coming to the Reference staff for help, it would aid the librarians to have a copy of the assignment and recommended sources in advance. When an assignment is over, librarians may be able to provide feedback. Did any students seem confused or have trouble understanding the assignment? Were there any problems with resources or access problems related to the assignment? Faculty and librarians working together can make library assignments successful learning experiences for students. 


The Library staff have created some helpful handouts and tutorials for students such as:  "Identifying Peer-reviewed Articles," "Evaluating Sources of Print Information," "Evaluating Web Information," etc.  For additional guides and handouts, please see Tutorials & Handouts.
Your librarians have created many Research Guides to electronic and print resources at FGCU.  Consult a relevant guide, and direct your students to them as well.  A direct link on the Library’s web site is found in the Help & Instruction area.
The FGCU Library offers a number of programs to increase our users' expertise in searching for, analyzing, evaluating, and managing the information needed for use in academic, personal, and professional life.   Online tutorials through the Library website help students understand how to use the catalog and identify journal articles on their topics.
FGCU librarians routinely work with instructors to design custom instructional materials and in-class sessions for particular course needs.  Our instructional programs are designed in accordance with FGCU's Student Learning Outcomes, the Association for College & Research Libraries' Model Statement of Objectives for Academic Bibliographic Instruction, and our own Information Literacy Plan.
To schedule a subject-specific session, use the Library Instruction Appointment Request Form or contact your Librarian Liaison. If at all possible, send your request at least two weeks in advance to ensure room and resource availability.

Instructional Resources

The MERLOT project (MERLOT, Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Training) is a free web collection of thousands of learning objects, tutorials, online lessons, etc. for faculty and higher education students.  Faculty have placed peer-reviewed course modules and other learning materials covering the gamut of disciplines for sharing by the academic community. Materials can be browsed by broad subjects or searched through a subject category index. Some examples are:

  • A graduate course on Ethics in Primary Health care
  • The Globalization Website
  • A guide to undergraduate research in history
  • A collection of JAVA applets for Math applications
  • Interactive skill tests for music theory, musicianship and music appreciation
  • Graphing in Science, video lessons on the Web
  • PowerPoint to YouTube using Windows Movie Maker
  • Today’s front pages (Newsmuseum -- 565 front pages from 51 countries)
  • Product Portfolio Analysis
  • LangMedia "Language by Country" Collection (and other multimedia materials
  • The Brain from Top to Bottom!