Better Student Research

Three Steps Toward Better Student Research


  • Insert the following reminder into your syllabi, perhaps near the information about the Rhetoric Center

Hekman Library – Research Assistance The library offers research assistance that may save you hours of research time and may result in a better grade. Research assistance is available most hours the library is open. You can visit the Research Assistance desk on the main floor near the entrance, call 616.526.6307, or email or IM a librarian at this address:  http://library.calvin.edu/service/research 

  • Link to a Hekman Library Subject Guide in your Moodle class page 
These guides provide researchers links to the most relevant research tools in a discipline. For best results, associate the subject guide with a research assignment. Subject Guide Examples 

More information about linking to subject guides and other library resources

  • Invite your department’s librarian to create a custom research web page for your class and/or provide research fluency instruction during a class period.
Hekman librarians will create special class guides that support research assignments. In conjunction with a class guide, Hekman librarians can visit your class and provide a personal and practical explanation of the tools and techniques outlined in the class guide. Contact your department's librarian for more information. 

Importance of Designing Useful Research Assignments

A 2010 "Project Information Literacy Progress Report" on designing useful research assignments offered the following conclusion. Your department's librarian can help you design a useful research assignment.

"A majority of handouts in the sample emphasized standards about the mechanics of compiling college research papers, more so than guiding students to finding and using sources for research. Most frequently, handouts advised students to use their campus library shelves and/or online library sources when conducting research for assignments, though most handouts lacked specific details about which of the library's hundreds of databases to search. Few handouts advised students about using Internet sources, even though many of todayʼs students almost always integrate the Web into their research activities. Very few handouts recommended consulting a librarian about research assignments. Details about evaluating information, plagiarism, and instructor availability appeared in only a minority of the handouts analyzed. The findings suggest that handouts for academic research assignments provide students with more how-to procedures and conventions for preparing a final product for submission, than guidance about conducting research and finding and using information in the digital age."

Full Report