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Inquiry Toolkit: A Guide for Faculty in Course Development

Tools to Assess Student Research Skills

Research assessment tools give feedback on research competencies before and after the inquiry assignment making the connection with learning objects that reinforce development of inquiry skills. Results can be analyzed to identify gaps in learning support. Marking rubrics may be used by librarians, peer students, or faculty to evaluate the research assignments but also to guide the students while preparing their work. Example of a peer-tutor rubric created for Nursing:

Information Literacy rubric for nursing

Research & Reference Tools

Information systems are complex and information resources are many and varied. Without instruction, obtaining desired information can be arduous and time-consuming. Students are often confused by the array of available research databases, especially in first year where they may be unsure about the expectations for academic research and writing. Providing a small selection of tools that are suited to the assignment at hand acknowledges that students  need to develop their investigation skills gradually across a program of study.

Reference tools provide subject-specific context in content areas new to the student. Academic handbooks and encyclopedias provide conceptual frameworks and background information. Finding “context” is identified as the most difficult aspect of inquiry for graduating students according to Project Information Literacy research (Head, 2009). Selected research databases provide better starting points than general web searches for retrieval of scholarly articles. Few research assignments direct novice researchers to recommended information tools (Head, 2010) resulting in a frustrating inquiry experience.

Learning Objects

Tutorials, guides, videos support the development of academic literacies. Examples include the Queen’s Sociology 122 online research skills tutorial designed for first-year students, a video-clip series showcasing strategies for locating online lesson plans for Queen’s teacher candidates on Aboriginal reserves, and online tutorials for medical students as part of blended learning opportunities. These objects are created by librarians and target online resources for use in virtual learning environments.  

Examples of supporting learning objects at Queen's:

Introduction to Research 

Crafting a Thesis Statement | Developing a Thesis Statement

Reading & Notemaking Strategies

How to evaluate a website 

Scholarly vs Non-Scholarly Articles

Scholarly vs Popular Resources 

Avoiding Plagiarism