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Assessment (HC)

English Department

      English Department Four-Year Library-Skills Rubric


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Critical Interrogation of Sources

Students begin to understand the basic differences between biased and unbiased, peer-reviewed and unmediated sources and can distinguish among them in familiar search environments (e.g., Google).  Furthermore, they are introduced to potentially new search environments (catalogs, research databases, and additional search engines), making critical distinctions among them and beginning to understand which ones are appropriate for different scholarly and creative projects.

Students improve their ability to identify sources of high-quality research material and can make critical distinctions among sources through an analysis of tone, purpose, context, audience, timeliness, and other criteria. Students begin to understand the scope and limitations of specific databases, indices, and catalogs and use this knowledge to plan research accordingly.

Students frequently identify excellent resources for a given project and recognize the effect of format and context (in both digital and analog environments) on the creation, dissemination, reception, and interpretation of sources. They understand how their search terms and strategies shape search results, and recognize research as an evolving, iterative, and potentially subjective process.

Students possess a critical understanding of resources, search environments, and search strategies and can employ that knowledge effectively and efficiently in the service of extended research projects. Moreover, they understand how their use of sources shapes and is conditioned by their own practical and methodological approaches to research.

Research Questions

Students learn how to use library resources to find and evaluate models of high- quality research questions in various disciplines and begin to generate critical questions from a limited number of sources.

Students generate researchable, critical questions from larger set of primary and secondary sources and begin to understand the approaches that different disciplines take in generating research questions.

Students further hone their ability to generate researchable, critical questions from an expanding corpus of primary and secondary material, including research in archives and other libraries. In increasingly sophisticated ways, they situate their close analyses of texts in a wider historical, cultural, and theoretical context.

Students independently generate critical research questions from the full range of primary and secondary resources at their disposal. As they gather a greater number of primary sources and secondary analyses, they rethink their question(s) and conclusions, revising accordingly.

Responsible Use of Sources

Students understand the mechanics of citation and the basic principles of copyright and plagiarism, furthering their understanding of how the three are connected in scholarly practice.

Students cite and reuse research material appropriately and accurately. They employ citation managers to organize, store, and share references.

Students understand the social nature of research and their role within a greater community of researchers.

Students effectively, responsibly, and fairly participate as junior scholars in both a local and global academic community. Their critical awareness of the ways in which scholarship is created, disseminated, and used informs the production of their own scholarship in terms of handling sources, understanding fair use, and providing access to their finished products.

Library Services

Students know the location of the Research Help Desk and work with their liaison from the “Personal Librarian” program to identify the appropriate staff members for library-oriented needs. They learn how to use the Library’s online services—the website and catalog to request both on- and off-site material.

Students can identify the appropriate subject librarian(s) for various disciplines and seek their assistance with subject-specific research.

Students can identify the subject librarian for English literature and can use the English literature research guide to locate and gain access to a range of relevant materials.

Students use the Library’s senior thesis archive to find models of high-quality senior theses in English.  They work with the English-literature subject librarian to develop strategies for finding and integrating information crucial to their theses, and they consult with the librarian about revising their arguments in response to, and in dialogue with, the material that they discover.

Primary Sources

Students differentiate between primary and secondary sources and start to analyze primary sources in the context of their creation.

Students effectively use library catalogs and databases to identify and locate primary sources.  They begin to understand the history of oral, textual, and digital transmission and can identify differences among editions, facsimiles, reprints, and translations.

Students effectively use both analog and digital sources and can recognize the advantages and limitations of each.  They understand the protocols of special-collections libraries and archives in the U.S. and other countries to which they might travel.

Students identify relevant primary sources and understand their context, effectively incorporating them into their research projects.

Secondary Sources Students can distinguish between peer-reviewed and unmediated sources and begin effectively to locate relevant, up-to-date scholarship. Students formulate increasingly sophisticated search strategies and revise searches based on results and new knowledge.  They can indentify various forms of scholarly communication (e.g., monographs, journal articles, reviews, blogs) and assess the relative value of each. Students are familiar with the key subject-specific databases and indices in English literary studies (e.g., The MLA International Bibliography) on line and in print and can locate and use an expanding range of resources not limited to the Open Web or local library material.  Students are adept at using keywords, subject headings, and classification schemes to identify the most relevant secondary sources and effectively incorporate them into their research projects.
Theory Students use library resources to identify and gain a basic understanding of aesthetic and cultural theory. Students continue to use library resources to explore relevant theoretical traditions and to understand the general historical development of aesthetic and cultural theory. Students investigate various theoretical traditions and their relationships to each other in greater depth and can competently employ them in the service of a research question. Students identify relevant and generative theoretical frameworks, understand the tradition from which they derive, and incorporate them in the service of a critical question.
Reference Material / Handbooks Students can locate print and digital reference works and distinguish between those produced under editorial review by subject experts and those produced for a general audience. Students use subject encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, and other summary accounts to find background information, identify interpretive themes, and discover recommended sources for further reading. Students deepen their knowledge of authors and literary context through the use of topic-specific reference guides that emphasize critical evaluations of major issues in the field. Students bring the full range of reference works to bear on projects—making connections and sharpening their arguments—and are able to identify relevant reference material when embarking on research in a new subject area.