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Faculty Services: FYS for Faculty

Helping our first-year students find, evaluate, & use information effectively at the college level.

First-Year Students React to Research Assignments

"... the research process has been brought to my attention before. However, actually experiencing it first hand is something totally different. I learned… you really can’t wait until the last minute… gathering research takes time … [and] you get a more broad understanding of whatever it is you are seeking… ”

"I learned a lot in this research project. It was my first time finding scholarly sources like these so at first I wasn’t sure what I was doing. Our session in the library really helped me learn about where to start … to really research your topic instead of just picking the first couple sources."

"... next time I will invest more time in finding diverse articles [and] I think I will try to go see a librarian from more help … this project was excellent practice for my future classes at McDaniel."

"Making sure your source is credible enough is huge … not every article or book you look into is going to give you good information … "

Your FYS Class in the Library

All FYS classes are required to attend two library sessions, at minimum, to meet the information literacy (IL) learning outcome for the FYS program.

But why?

  • Many first-year students have little to no library experience and are unprepared for college-level research, as evidenced by questions like: "Can we find everything on the library website, or are there some texts not online?”
  • Students prefer integrated sessions! Students shared:
    • positive feedback from closely timed library sessions that were integrated with their research;
    • complaints when library sessions were too far apart – forgot information when needed; and
    • wishes that they attend library session before their assignments are due!

  • These instruction sessions lay the foundation for student research across the curriculum, giving them the tools to perform research at an academic level.
    • Interacting with students at their point of need increases their ability to recall and use college level research processes and skills in the future.
    • Students are more successful when we provide them the opportunity to do research for your class assignments at the moment when they need IL assistance.
  • Assign a research project! Working towards a project motivates students to learn research skills/processes. (See sample research assignments below.)

  • Require students to use, at a minimum, one of the following sources during the course of their research:
    • 1 monograph (scholarly book)
    • 1 scholarly journal article
  • Schedule library sessions around your course’s research project timeline. This allows you to:
    • scaffold multiple components over a set timeline;
    • give students feedback on the quality of their sources before/when their rough drafts are due; and
    • emphasize that research is a process.
  • Attend library sessions as a collaborator, so that you can:
    • address questions about research assignment requirements;
    • tie the library session into your course and highlight points you’d like your students to focus on; and
    • share your expert perspective on how to do college-level research.
  • Ensure the following are completed before attending our second library session. (See research timeline sample.)
    • Research assignment requirements and guidelines have been shared with the class.
    • Students have selected research topics.

Library Session 1:

Students engage in learning activities that lead them to interact with and explain:

  • The library: Its building, its people, and its resources
  • Source types: Scholarly and popular (when and why to use each type)
  • Search strategies: The library catalog
  • Using sources: Reading a book for a research assignment

See the First-Year Seminar (FYS): 1st Visit page for class slides and the Extras page for handouts.

Library Session 2:

Students engage in learning activities that lead them to interact with and explain:

  • Source types: Primary, secondary, and tertiary (including the scholarly conversation and peer-review)
  • Search strategies: Refining keywords for use in Research Starter (database discovery platform)
  • Using sources: Identifying and reading scholarly articles
  • Evaluating sources: Analyzing a source's authority, reliability, perspective, and currency

During the second session, we also address questions and concerns from the first session exit survey.

See the First-Year Seminar (FYS): 2nd Visit page for class slides and the Extras page for handouts.

All FYS classes must complete two library sessions, at minimum, to meet the information literacy (IL) learning outcome for the FYS program. (You may schedule additional sessions if desired.)

Library Session 1 is scheduled for you by the First Look Team

  • See your First Look Series presentation chart for your date and time.
  • Should you need to reschedule, contact the IL Coordinator, Loretta Spangler (

Library Session 2, which builds on the information students learn in Library Session 2, is scheduled by you (the faculty member) so it best fits the needs of your course. (See research timeline sample below).

  • Make your request early using our Instruction Request Form to secure your preferred date and time. (Note that October is our most popular time for Library Session 2.)
  • Consider assigning a small or low-stakes research assignment in September, with the possibility of using this as a foundation for a larger assignment due later in the semester. See annotated bibliography assignment sample.

Sample Research Timeline - See our Assignment Calculator for suggested time frame.

  1. Identify research topic
  2. Attend Library Session 2
  3. Preliminary bibliography (Items 2 and 3 can be inverted)
    • Offer feedback on sources selected. Students will see that the information they use matters and learn to differentiate between credible and noncredible sources.
    • Recommend students see a librarian for assistance, as needed.
  4. Annotated bibliography
  5. Extended outline
  6. First draft
  7. Assignment due

Assess your student's research/information literacy skills with this handy rubric! The library has developed and improved its research rubric over several years. Each year’s results are used to improve our instruction efforts.

Please consider:

  • Incorporating the Information Literacy (IL) Rubric into your own grading rubric and sharing the IL results with the IL Coordinator, OR

  • Sending student end products to the IL Coordinator for double-blind assessment

Sample Research Assignments

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