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Faculty Services

Training Students as Researchers - A Perspective

The 2023 Horizon Report, Teaching and Learning, a key barometer of university education trends, has addressed the growth of misinformation. The report states:

Most colleges and universities, however, have not yet been able to provide more than limited information literacy offerings at best. Furthermore, faculty face challenges in teaching these issues due to concerns about potential accusations of political bias, negative student evaluations of teaching, and increased conflict in class. Institutions need to incorporate information literacy as a main component of the undergraduate curriculum while providing students and faculty with the tools and support they need to have meaningful conversations about these issues (p. 16).

Information Literacy (IL) may be defined as the ability to access and use information critically to discern truth and solve problems. For most of our students, IL is an add-on to the curriculum, addressed in a spotty manner by librarian visits to your classes or your urging to students to consult with a librarian. In our increasingly information-crazy world, such limited initiatives won't be enough. This page will show you how to transform student research assignments into vehicles for training able researchers.

For more information / consultation on using research assignments as training tools, contact:


William Badke 
Tel. 604-513-2121 x 3906 

Office -- Upper Level -- 204


Qinqin Zhang 
Tel. 604-513-2121 x 3904

Office -- Main Level

Elizabeth Kreiter

Tel. 604-513-2121 x 3923 

Office -- Main Level

Why bother?

Is developing students as researchers a priority when we also need to impart so much content? Is it even possible? Most of academia appears to be answering "no" to both questions. This makes student information literacy the biggest blind spot in higher education today.

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An Assignment Creation Plan in a Nutshell

Here is a plan (with a lot more detail below):

1. Determine the elements you believe would make an excellent research project for your course.
For example, an excellent research project:

  • Is based on a researchable research problem expressed as a question or thesis
  • Avoids merely gathering a reporting on existing information
  • Follows a clear and logical outline that addresses the research problem without including extraneous materials
  • Includes a strong review of existing research/views/positions on the issue
  • Includes scholarly, highly relevant resources in its citations and reference list
  • Shows evidence of resource evaluation based on the dual criteria of quality and relevance
  • Uses citation format correctly

2. Divide the project into 3 to 5 parts, each of which:

  • Deals with one or more of the elements in 1. above
  • Is structured to enable students to learn how to achieve the specific goals you have stated in 1. above
  • Builds one on the other so that students progress in their skills as you assess each part
  • Gives opportunity for students who are struggling to try a segment again after receiving your comments

3. Help students to understand that your role in the process is to mentor them in their research skill development, with you as a "guide on the side."


The following presentation is a sample of what is needed to turn your assignment into a research skill development process (see PDF download version above):

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Related Presentations:

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For more tools and presentations to develop research skills, go to:

Examples and Guides