Open Educational Resources


Document Type

Learning Object

Date of this Version



Writing Spaces Assignments & Activities Archive, 2022


Copyright © 2022 Zoe McDonald

License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


This activity transforms a familiar annotated bibliography into a full class activity to give students hands-on knowledge of two central components of composing: writing as a social process (Adler-Kassner and Wardle) and “authority is constructed and contextual” (ACRL). As Tressie McMillan Cottom observes , “writing is always a brutally social process that is rude enough to masquerade as a solitary one” (Cottom 226). Rather than assume annotated bibliographies are exclusively individual activities, this variation provides students with both collaborators and an audience.

Raquel Corona, Kami Day, and Michele Eodice point out how college students often dread group assignments due to group member’s different goals, and uneven divisions of labor. Students have good reasons to stick to what they know in online search strategies, too. Information literacy scholar Alison Head finds students often take on familiar strategies to limit information overload, decreasing their opportunities to develop critical and empathetic thinking processes. To address these challenges, this activity emphasizes student collaborations with each other throughout the process of creating, and reflecting upon, an annotated bibliography.

This easy-to-adapt activity works well to introduce students to research-based assignments and class discussions. I’ve used this activity with different prompts before students create their individual annotated bibliographies on their own research topics, and as a standalone activity to inform class discussion. This prompt’s focus on holistic college student health can work well as preparation for longer assignments investigating health care access, popular misperceptions, and the history of specific epidemics.