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FYWS Instructor Toolkit - Working With the Library

Research Assignment Design Rubric

The Research Assignment Design Rubric, produced in collaboration with the Writing Studio, assists Vanderbilt faculty in the design of research assignments that give students concrete and specific guidance on research methods.

Guidance Level (0)

Guidance Level (1)

Guidance Level (2)

Guidance Level (3)

Clarifies expectations about appropriate sources.

Does not describe or explain sourcing expectations.

Gives general guidelines for evaluating a source's appropriateness to the assignment.

Does not indicate required number of sources (e.g ., "several" or "an adequate number.")

Describes methods and tools for finding resources too generally (e.g. "use the library.")

Lists all relevant qualities of acceptable sources are listed (e.g., peer-reviewed/popular/trade, primary/secondary, qualitative/quantitative, recent/outdated)

States the required number of sources as a number or range of numbers.

Describes methods and tools for finding resource by broad type (e.g., "use a library database that includes scholarly articles.")

Defines and lists all relevant qualities of acceptable sources.

Gives the required number of sources as a range or  gives a clear explanation of how a student will know when they have an adequate number of sources. 

Discusses and demonstrates methods and tools for resource discovery in detail.

Emphasizes research as a process with multiple steps.

Does not acknowledge or attempt to clarify any elements of the research process and focuses only on the finished product.

Acknowledges and perhaps even describes the research process but includes no components that require students to show their engagement with the process.

Grades the assignment without particular consideration given to the quality of research.

Includes at least one component that requires students to make the process of research explicit and requires the professor to evaluate these separately. Examples include:

  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Paper proposals or abstracts
  • Literature reviews
  • Research journals
  • Online group discussion forums
  • Wikis that track process 

Process components require students to apply information literacy skills like those delineated by Project SAILS (Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills) and are:

  • a portion of the assignment's final grade
  • evaluated in advance of the final product to allow student to act on feedback and guidance from the professor

Engages library resources and staff.

Requires no engagement with library resources or with a liaison librarian.

Gives students general instructions on library tools (e.g., databases, call number ranges, etc.) and resources, and the name of the appropriate subject librarian may be included.

Identifies discipline-specific resources (e.g., library guides, disciplinary databases.)

Relies upon the liaison librarian for suggestions and possible collaboration.

Identifies the most relevant library tools and demonstrates them to students in class.

Familiarizes the librarian with the assignment ahead of time and seeks his/her advice.

This Research Assignment Design Rubric was adapted with permission from the Research Guidance Rubric for Assignment Design created by Pete Coco and Hazel McClure at Grand Valley State University. Date last modified – 1/31/12.