Library Instruction for the Writing Program


Information Literacy Instruction 

General Libraries Resources

Activities and Tutorials by Learning Outcome

Research Guide with resources for WRIT150 students


The Libraries and the Writing Program have a long history of working together to help students develop and implement skills and behaviors related to information literacy. The following learning outcomes were developed together by librarians and Writing 150 administrators. They are introduced in WRIT150 and can be built upon and reinforced in WRIT340, through any of the methods described in other parts of this page.

Learning outcomes:

  • Develop a strategic search plan
  • Demonstrate an understanding of citation style in order to track a scholarly conversation
  • Identify the purpose, audience, and context of various information sources



Information Literacy Instruction

USC Libraries' Instructional Services offers several forms of tailored information literacy and libraries-related instruction, including synchronous in-class workshops, assignment design, asynchronous materials, consultations, and combinations of all of these. Instruction is most successful when the librarian and instructor work together ahead of time to establish effective timing and content for instruction around a research assignment.

To learn more and to request instruction for your class, visit the Request Instruction page or email



General Libraries Resources

Writing Center Library Databases: This guide is intended to serve as a quick reference guide for USC Writing Center Consultants on databases that may be useful for finding information on each of the ten WRIT 150 thematics.

Virtual Orientation to the USC Libraries: This interactive tutorial provides broad information about the Libraries' services and resources, and could be used in conjunction with instruction and/or assignment design.



Activities and Tutorials by Outcome

The following learning activities and assignments are often used by librarians and/or instructors. You might use them to start a conversation with a librarian about instruction, or directly build them into your syllabus. You may need to log in to the Libraries' Instructional Repository with your USC email and password to access some of 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 Melanee Vicedo,



Developing Keywords tutorial: This interactive tutorial covers the concepts of keywords, using keywords to broaden and narrow a search, and using them to discover different perspectives.

Crafting a Good Research Question tutorial: This interactive tutorial allows students to choose one of six research topics to explore the process from thinking of a broad topic to crafting a specific research question, including drawing on one's own existing knowledge, and using reference sources.

Customize Google Scholar for USC Libraries video: This short video describes how to locate USC Libraries-owned materials through the Google Scholar interface.

Guided Google Sheet in-class activity:

This activity can be used after or during an introduction to the library and search tools. Students will independently complete their row in the spreadsheet while the librarian walks around and assists them individually. The students can return to the shortened link at any time to view the work they did in class. If not every student has a computer, this activity can also be completed in small groups. Questions can be modified based on the assignment and needs of the class.

Topic Swap in-class activity:

This activity is best done after students have already found a few sources for their topics. Have students work in pairs (could also work in a group of three). Ask them to explain to each other (in 5 minutes each):

  • what their topic is
  • how and where they've searched so far
  • anything that is difficult or missing from their search results so far

Then direct them to the Google Sheet to search for each others' topics. Come back together and ask a few groups to share what they learned about their own topics by seeing them from someone else's perspective.

Identifying Keywords resource (via Indiana University):

Use this worksheet either as a handout, or use the language as part of introducing a keyword-related activity.



Demonstrate an understanding of citation style in order to track a scholarly conversation

Conversation Tracker in-class activity:

This activity is best done with a course reading students have already read; students work together in small groups to complete the form. Come back together as a class to have a larger discussion about audience and purpose. Then ask students to work together in the same small groups to find another source that is in conversation with the text they have just read and analyzed.

Scholarly Party in-class activity (developed by Ryer Banta, Montana State University):

"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."

Citation Research Guide: This guide collects the Libraries' and other resources on incorporating and citing sources in your work for all subjects and disciplines. Its sections include resources and guides for individual citation styles like MLA.

Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism tutorials:

  • Module 1: What is plagiarism? What is citation?: This interactive tutorial explains the purposes of formal citation practices in an academic environment, and how those practices help you to avoid plagiarism, using examples and including checks for understanding.
  • Module 2: Citing to avoid plagiarism: This interactive tutorial covers how to identify when a citation is needed, and how to recognize the difference between paraphrasing and quoting, in order to avoid plagiarism. It uses examples and includes checks for understanding.



Identify the purpose, audience, and context of various information sources


Know Your Sources resource (via Portland Community College): This infographic can be used as homework or in class to explain different source types and the cycle of information.

Primary and Secondary Sources in-class activity:

This activity asks students to work in groups to identify the audience and purpose of primary and secondary sources in law. After submitting the answers to questions through a Google Form, the librarian should lead a discussion that compares the three different types of sources and how they might fit together. The example topic is medical marijuana in California, but the activity could be adapted to other topics.

Evaluating Sources tutorial: This interactive tutorial guides students through evaluating sources based on their research needs. 

Identify Peer Reviewed Articles video: This video describes the peer review process that many scholarly journals use, and how to identify peer-reviewed articles when searching.

What does the “peer review” filter mean? video:  This video covers some of the same ground as the previous one, but focuses specifically on what the "peer review" filter in the Libraries' catalog does and does not do - and when it makes sense to use it.

Information Cycle video: This video takes students through different types of information sources, how they are produced and how much time it takes to do so, and how to use different types of sources to create a full picture of a topic.

    Evaluating Sources Rhetorically Using the BEAM Method handout:  This handout can be used in instruction to illustrate the different ways a writer can use types of evidence.