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Research Guides

Information Literacy Habits of Mind (HOMs) Toolkit

Inquiry lesson plan

This is an example of a 75-minute session for a first-year course.

0-5 minutes: Introduction/ice breaker

5-10 minutes: Heads Up

10-15 minutes: Model breaking up a research question into keywords

15-25 minutes: Students complete keyword worksheet

25-60 minutes: Explore databases with a Google Doc

60-65 minutes: Introduce citation managers

65-75 minutes: Reflection and closing

Choosing a Topic

10 minutes, active learning

This handout leads students through the process of authentic topic selection. By following this flow chart, students will be encouraged to choose a paper topic that genuinely interests them, leading to increased engagement with the assignment. Before using this handout, consider modeling this process to the students using their assignment as an example.

Broadening and Narrowing Your Topic

10 minutes, active learning

These two handouts can be used to get students to think more broadly and more narrowly about their topics. What are broader questions that they could ask about a narrow topic? What are narrower questions that could be asked about a broad topic?

The handouts encourage students to think about breaking down their topic into constituent parts (as well as what disciplines might study them), and to see that their topic fits within a constellation of possible research questions.

Finally, you can encourage them to think about finding a "Goldilocks" fit for their topic: Not too broad to be unanswerable, but not too narrow as to not find any supporting research.

Explaining Keywords with HeadsUp

5 minutes; active learning

The HeadsUp game is played using Powerpoint and challenges students to help two student volunteers with their backs to the board guess the words on the Powerpoint behind them. The game is best used at the beginning of a class focused on keywords and research questions and is a fun, interactive way to get students thinking about the keywords and related terms for their research question.


Modeling breaking a research question into keywords

5 minutes; co-learning

In this activity, the librarian writes a sample research question on the board and asks students to help break the research question into keywords, synonyms, and related terms. As students give suggestions, the librarian circles keywords, writes related terms, and makes additional suggestions.

This activity is best used before the keyword worksheet/keyword concept map and after the HeadsUp activity.

Generating Keywords

5-10 minutes; active learning

This handout can be used as an option for brainstorming keywords through concept mapping. It could also be used as a jumping-off point for more complicated concept-mapping endeavors.

Exploring databases with Google Docs

25+ minutes; active learning

This activity gives students the opportunity to explore databases in small groups in a structured and accountable way.

Reflection prompts

Giving time for students to reflect on their learning is an important part of pedagogy. Please use any of the following prompts for a one-minute paper or a think-pair-share activity:

  • What are you good at as a researcher?
  • What has been frustrating about doing research?
  • How have you located resources in the past? What went right? What were your challenges?

Course guide resources

Ask students to consider this chart prior to searching for information. Consider having students pair and share, going through an example/student topic with the whole class or having students work through chart prior to an instruction session. Consider teaching types of sources (bonus: cover evaluation, too) within the context of the chart.

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