1. Design your assignment with a specific research skill in mind.
Decide what research skills you want your students to learn, then design your assignment around those skills. For example, if you want your students to learn to use library databases, make sure you assign topics (or help students choose topics) that lend themselves to research in library databases.
2. Choose topics that can be researched.
Some examples include: finding literary criticism, finding evidence to support an argument, finding biographical information, finding case law, researching career options, and finding peer-reviewed journal articles.
3. Be specific
Students will use Google to complete their research assignments unless you direct them to other sources. If you want students to do more than Google, tell them. If you want students to use library databases, state this in the assignment.
4. Test the assignment.
Do the assignment yourself. Does it work with the library's resources? Is it likely students will be able to complete it? If the assignment requires students to use an unfamiliar resource, consider asking a librarian to provide instruction.
5. Give students a written copy of the assignment.
Having a written copy of the assignment to refer to helps students remain on target. It also helps librarians help students.