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Based on the issues addressed in the literature, as well as our own experiences with real library Internet-based assignments, our goal is to examine these practical problems, and suggest solutions by way of actual hands-on assignments that librarians and instructors can either use immediately, or easily modify to suit their own particular needs.Our approach to designing these assignments centered on defining appropriate goals - for both librarians, instructors, and students - for teaching Internet research skills.Next, we will describe some of the key points to communicate to both instructors and students about each type of assignment.
Well-constructed assignments will also address the universal concern that "students and teachers need to recognize the current limitations of information found on the Internet." (Schrock, 1999) The first step towards building good Internet related assignments is to recognize relevant pitfalls in searching and evaluation.
By taking stock of Internet-related assignments that we regularly encounter in our library and the ones we have located from other institutions, we have grouped the assignments into three types.
Also, because student levels of technology and information literacy vary between schools, libraries may see more of the introductory Type I and II, than Type III assignments.
In the past year, we have seen significant increase in the Net-awareness of our incoming classes, usually reflecting their increased access to technology in the high school setting.
The explanations and examples included in this paper can be used as either pieces or modules of a broader library instruction programme, or as stand-alone assignments designed around particular classes or curricula.
Library literature includes much on the problems of using the Internet for academic research (Cornell, 1999; Janes, 1999) and the fallibility of current search engine technology (Notess, 2000), as well as the importance of building strong librarian/instructor relationships (Kotter, 1999; Stebelman, 1999).Librarians' expertise in the world of information can only go so far, however: "it is the writing faculty who actually provide the incentive (assignments) for students to use the skills of gathering, evaluating, and integrating information into their writing." (Gauss & King, 1998) When students have a definite task at hand, the relevance of library instruction becomes readily apparent.Often, however, librarians only find out about assignments once students have started to arrive at the Reference desk with questions.Lastly, for students the assignments needed to be easy to understand, and immediately relevant to term papers or other projects that their instructors were regularly assigning.The basic concerns with using "The Internet" as a research tool are well known, and fall roughly into two categories: defects and inconsistencies in the searching tools, and the complexity of interpreting and evaluating results."Don't believe everything you read" has never rung truer.Though we will not attempt to tackle solutions for the wide-spread need for information literacy, it is hoped that this framework for creating guides and assignments for college-level library and term paper assignments will serve as an introduction for students and faculty alike to some of these concepts.Often, we find that students and even faculty are facing this whole new ideology of information without the appropriate tools to discern facts from fictions.Without publishers and editors as filters, Web information can be served up quickly and often with an apparently validating beauty, with tabloids appearing on equal ground with encyclopedias.Internet knowledge is increasing steadily among instructors in the academic world.As courses incorporate more instructional technology, traditional undergraduate research assignments are adapting to reflect the changing world of information and information access.