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Library Research Skills Instruction

Vassar Librarians can teach your students to understand and use information resources. We can help you design effective research assignments, and ensure that the library has the research materials that you and your students need.

Expectations for Vassar Students

  • In 100-level courses students should gain mastery in using:

    • the library catalog and online databases to identify and locate sources
    • compile, read, and summarize a small set of material
    • understand the role of librarians in the information-seeking process and how to ask for help

  • In 200-level courses students should:

    • be able to use discipline-specific research tools and services
    • be able to break down a research topic into concepts, identify keywords, and execute effective searches
    • become adept at distinguishing between popular and scholarly information sources
    • be able to identify the differences between primary and secondary sources of information within their fields of study
    • understand that finding, reading, and incorporating primary (and other) sources is an iterative process.

  • In advanced 300-level seminar work, students should be able to:

    • identify the scholarly research tools of their discipline(s)
    • select and use appropriate article databases based on their research needs
    • utilize a variety of search strategies including citation searching and keyword and controlled vocabulary searching
    • deepen their understanding of scholarly communication within their own discipline and across disciplines, especially if working in a multi-disciplinary program
    • reach out to the Liaison Librarian for their discipline/program.

National Information Literacy Standards

While research often entails learning specific skills and methodologies, students should also be trained to think about higher-order concepts relating to information and their use of it. 

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) has established a framework of core concepts about information, research, and scholarship that students should encounter during their college education so that they obtain "research maturity" prior to graduation.  :

  1. Authority Is Constructed and Contextual
  2. Information Creation as a Process
  3. Information Has Value
  4. Research as Inquiry
  5. Scholarship as Conversation
  6. Searching as Strategic Exploration

The Framework gives us the opportunity to think about how and what we teaching.  The Vassar Liaison librarians welcome conversation with faculty about these concepts and how they can transform library instruction sessions, assignments, and courses.