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Teaching and Evaluating Research : Research Assignments - Ideas and Resources

Suggestions for introducing students to research and developing successful assignments. An SFCC faculty developed rubric for evaluating student research projects.


Jumping into academic research without any preparation can be like trying to teach yourself cuniform.

Sample Rubrics


It's possible to design online quizes for IRIS if you like using a tutorial.

Suggestions for Adding Research

To begin

Grade the research not just the speech, paper or project. 

Break any big assignment into small steps to insure that students start. (Proposal, outline, list of sources, draft….)



1. Ask students to read and summarize an article from a scholarly journal.


    2. Have the students find and submit an article on a topic relevant to the class along with a written summary of the main points.

      More Challenging

      3. Give the class an editorial or opinion piece and ask them to try and verify the facts.


        4. Pick an issue or have the students pick an issue and try to find information on both sides of the controversy. 


        5. Students research a disciplinary issue with strict guidelines such as "madlib" research structure. 

         The ______  [importance, effect, implication] of ______ [factor] on ______ [ issue or condition] in _____ [who, population studied]


        6. Ask student to find the original study or at least the complete reference for the original study mentioned in a popular magazine article or on the news.  Advanced:  Have the students compare the popular report of the study to the original research.




        1.  Ask students to keep a research journal which includes databases consulted and keywords used and an analysis of websites examined. 


        2.  Require the students to include an evaluation of the reliability of author or organization responsible for any web page they use in a paper or assignment that is not .gov.     


        3. Ask students working on a paper or project to compile an annotated bibliography to include more sources than they actually need for the assignment.  Require students to rate the sources and explain why some resources might not be as useful or reliable as other resources.  


        4.  Ask students to locate and annotate the very best resources on a particular narrow topic. 


        5.  Researching the research used by Wikipedia authors and articles can be fun.  Students can locate and evaluate the references or further readings listed at the end of the article. Naturally the instructor needs to choose appropriate and relevant articles. Check first to see how difficult this will be before you make the assignment. 

        Project Rubric

        Draft rubric developed by Social Science faculty and SFCC librarians  June 2011



        No Evidence = 0

        Emerging = 1

        Developing = 2

        Mastering = 3

        Source evaluation/


        Primary vs. secondary


        Single source

        No recognition of need for evaluation

        Know to evaluate though unsure of criteria

        Secondary popular  non-academic sources only

        Uses mostly reliable sources


        Can justify most but not all criteria


        Good quality sources

        Appropriate variety of resources

        Can justify use of value of sources

        Synthesis of disciplinary ideas/

        Evidence of learning


        Work makes no reference to any disciplinary ideas or contributions.

        Although limited, an idea appears of the discipline’s role.

        Disciplinary fault lines are described or referred to.

        Disciplinary fault lines are critically examined.

        Demonstrates deeper understanding of issues than most

        Differentiate quality of sources

        Cannot differentiate source types.  Uses opinions rather than research

        Use mainly popular sources,

        \little  or no use of academic sources

        Used some scholarly sources though lack range in type of sources

         Secondary or outdated sources predominate

        Uses scholarly timely primary sources and secondary sources where appropriate. 

        Project is fact-based synthesizing facts rather than opinions to form conclusions  

        Multiple errors of fact appear or misinterpretation of facts to support personal opinions. Opinion drives project regardless of data or sources

        Some factual errors and some misinterpretation of factual data; student opinions predominate over fact  and data

        Facts accurately connect to other facts.  Opinions expressed are based on research and data. 


        Reliable factual information drives this project.  Project exhibits a synthesis of  data and facts to form conclusions  

        Citation styles



        No citations or

        no discernable citation style


        Citations present but grossly incomplete, incorrect and/or inconsistent



        Errors remain, but evidence and format acceptable.



        Correct and in style and format


        Writing intensive option

        No  drafts or working bibliography submitted for review

        Draft and/or bibliography not  submitted on schedule; reflexive comments or corrections largely ignored.

        Draft and/or working bibliography  submitted and some reflective comments incorporated in final project

        High quality final project completed on schedule with all corrections, suggestions and comments addressed






        Pre-College Research Evaluation Illustration