Using Standards - Develop Assignments

One way to include IL skills in your teaching is through assignments. Modifying current practice creates opportunities for students to gain the needed abilities while at the same time learning the academic content of a course. Any given assignment can include several standards and learning outcomes but limiting to only one or two is recommended.

Tutorial on developing and evaluating writing assignments from the Unversity of Maryland

Also see our bibliography for faculty and the Toolkit section on developing courses.


Course: PSYC 110 - Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

(as taught by Joanne Pedersen)

The nature of critical thinking. Includes models and strategies; logical and probabilistic reasoning; common fallacies; deductive and inductive reasoning; valid and invalid arguments; persuasion and propaganda; self-regulation through thought processes.

Course goals

To enhance your ability and willingness to use critical thinking skills to evaluate behavior, thought processes, and any information obtained from research, the general public, and the media. This course should promote your ability and willingness to evaluate claims and evidence in order to form well reasoned judgments.

Main Information Literacy Learning Outcomes for this Course

Standard Three: EVALUATE: Students in this course must be able to critically evaluate information and discern credible from non-credible material. This is especially true for pop psychology from the many talk shows and magazines that claim expertise in these topics.

The Assignments: How are these competencies taught/ assessed?

Assignment #1
Students find a popular press article on a subject in psychology that cites research studies. These are analyzed in class in terms of how psychology is portrayed to the general public.

Example of outcomes for Assignment #1
Standard 3 - Outcome 1A: Reads the text and selects main ideas.
Standard 3 - Outcome 2B: Analyzes the structure and logic of supporting arguments or methods.

Assignment #2
Students are to find the original research that is cited in the popular press article. This leads the students through numerous search possibilities and they learn about access points in the catalog and in various specialized indexes. They understand the difference between scholarly and popular literature, and the difference between the citations for each type of information.

Example of outcomes for #2
Standard 2 - Outcome 5C: Differentiates between the types of sources cited and understands the elements and correct syntax of a citation for a wide range of resources.
Standard 2 - Outcome 2E: Implements the search strategy in various information retrieval systems...
Standard 2 - Outcome 5D: Records all pertinent citation information for future reference.

Assignment #3
This understanding is further enhanced when the students take the two sources of information and compare them. In their writing they must judge the quality of the article from the popular press using information learned in the course regarding critical thinking (the seven characteristics of good critical thinkers, quality of the statistical presentation) and judge whether the popular press article is a credible source of information.

Example of outcomes for #3
Standard 1 - Outcome 2D: Identifies the purpose and audience of potential resources (popular vs. scholarly publications).
Standard 3 - Outcome 2A: Examines and compares information from various sources in order to evaluate X.