Library Instruction for the General Education Curriculum

General Education Seminars

The following information literacy learning outcomes for GE seminars were developed together by librarians and GE program administrators:

Students will be able to:

  • Formulate a research question of an appropriate scope that addresses a perceived gap in disciplinary knowledge or examines fundamental disciplinary knowledge
  • Evaluate ideas from multiple perspectives in order to represent a multifaceted, multidisciplinary scholarly conversation
  • Identify the contributions that different types of information sources (e.g., experimental  research, creative works, primary sources, theory) make to disciplinary knowledge
  • Demonstrate ability to create and communicate knowledge to diverse audiences

Reports on these outcomes related to library instruction can be found in the Assessment section of this page.

The following learning activities and assignments are often used by librarians and/or instructors. You will need to log in to the Libraries' Instructional Repository with your USC email and password to access them. For Google Docs, please make a copy rather than editing the documents directly. If you would like to contribute a resource to this page, please email Elizabeth Galoozis at galoozis@usc.edu.

If you use an assignment in your GE seminar, please let us know. We'd like to know how it went, and how well students did. Email Elizabeth Galoozis at galoozis@usc.edu to discuss the details.

Crafting a Good Research Question Tutorial (Outcome: Formulate a research question of an appropriate scope that addresses a perceived gap in disciplinary knowledge, in order to produce new knowledge)

Broad and Narrow Research Questions Activity (Outcome: Formulate a research question of an appropriate scope that addresses a perceived gap in disciplinary knowledge, in order to produce new knowledge)

Following a discussion on the nature of a research question, giving a few examples in the appropriate discipline, direct students to a source of research writing, such as an article from an undergraduate journal, a conference paper, or a policy paper. Direct them to read key parts of the source, such as the abstract and conclusion. The librarian leads a discussion and records answers to the discussion questions in a Google Doc.

Approaching the Book as Artifact Activity (Outcome: Formulate a research question of an appropriate scope that addresses a perceived gap in disciplinary knowledge, in order to produce new knowledge)

Asks students to analyze a book not just as a container of knowledge, but as an artifact of its time, place, and author. Students are asked to formulate a research question based on examining the book as an artifact.

Identifying Different Perspectives Activity (Outcome: Evaluate ideas from multiple perspectives in order to represent a multifaceted, multidisciplinary scholarly conversation)

Students break into groups; each group reads or watches a different short piece representing different perspectives on the same topic or question. [Librarians and/or instructors will need to locate sources appropriate to the seminar's topic - see a list of examples here.] Each group answers a set of guided questions, and posts their answers to a collaboratively-edited Google document. The librarian leads a discussion of how different perspectives contribute to scholarly conversations both large (disciplinary discourse) and small (in a research paper).

Analyzing Primary Sources Activity (Outcome: Evaluate ideas from multiple perspectives in order to represent a multifaceted, multidisciplinary scholarly conversation)

Can be used with primary sources (particularly from Special Collections) in any subject area, and asks students to analyze the forces and perspectives behind the creation of an array of primary and secondary sources.

Scholarly Party Activity (Outcome: Evaluate ideas from multiple perspectives in order to represent a multifaceted, multidisciplinary scholarly conversation)

Developed by Ryer Banta, Undergraduate Experience Librarian at Montana State University and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

"For this activity students are asked to imagine that they are organizing a party, specifically a scholarly party. Groups are given a starting article that they evaluate and use as a jumping off point for choosing a theme for their party and finding more sources. Their theme acts as an early version of a research question. Following citations backwards and forwards groups invite other scholars who would have relevant things to say about their theme. Students also assess gaps in their invite list and identify other scholars from different perspectives or discipline who should also be invited."

Different Ways of Presenting Scientific Information Activity (Outcome: Evaluate ideas from multiple perspectives in order to represent a multifaceted, multidisciplinary scholarly conversation)

Use the 20-minute John Oliver video "Scientific Studies" (warning: contains profanity) to start a discussion, or have students seek out different representations of the same scientific information (for example, news articles about studies), and compare the information in them.

Cycle of Information Activity (Outcome: Identify the contributions that different types of information sources (e.g., experimental  research, creative works, primary sources, theory) make to disciplinary knowledge)

Students work in groups to locate newspaper articles, scholarly journal articles, books, and reference sources on a topic; each group answers a set of guided questions using a Google form. The librarian leads a discussion of their answers after forms have been submitted..

Annotated Bibliography Assignment (Outcome: Identify the contributions that different types of information sources (e.g., experimental research, creative works, primary sources, theory) make to disciplinary knowledge

The five versions of this assignment all ask students to use library research guides to locate key types of sources in their corresponding Core Literacy. This assignment is meant to accompany course content about what kinds of sources and research are important to particular disciplines.

<p><a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" rel="license"><img alt="Creative Commons License" src="https://i.creativecommons.org/l/by/4.0/88x31.png" style="border-width: 0;" /></a><br />
This work is licensed by Elizabeth Galoozis under a <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" rel="license">Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a>.</p>

Communicating to Different Audiences Activity (Outcome: Demonstrate ability to create and communicate knowledge to diverse audiences)

Students are provided with two different sources on the same topic - for example, a scientific study (A) and a newspaper article describing the results of that study (B). Students break into groups; each group answers a set of guided questions through a Google Form. Librarian leads a discussion of the results.

Variation: students are provided with sources before class, or use sources already on the course syllabus.

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Other examples of assignments and student work from GE Seminars that involve the Libraries:

"This website digs deep into the holdings of the USC Archives & Special Collections to find references to books and images that help illuminate the relationship between the black experience and Great Britain. It is constructed by students in Dr. Lindsay O'Neill's General Education Seminar "Being Black in Britain, 1500-2000.""