Primary sources are referenced but not quoted/included, not integrated
Primary sources are mentioned but not referenced
Primary sources not mentioned
What you're seeing:
Students are using secondary or tertiary sources (e.g., encyclopedias) instead of engaging with source material
Improving Engagement with Primary Sources
Even if primary sources are not required, you can make it clear that students are expected to use primary materials if appropriate for the assignment.
If students seem unsure of how to access appropriate primary sources, you can provide a list of suggested sources, or links to digital primary source collections that are available on the web. Many of the library's LibGuides include links to relevant digital collections, such as those made available by the Library of Congress.
Suggest types of sources to be used and not used, and explicitly encourage students to use specific library resources if it fits the parameters of the assignment.
Make sure the library provides access to any required sources, and that all students will have an equal opportunity to access these sources.
Try to strike a balance between recommending certain sources and creating a lengthy, prescribed list. Students should be encouraged to find and evaluate at least some of their sources on their own, rather than simply choosing all of their sources from a list provided by the instructor.
Have an introductory assignment or activity that requires students to compare and contrast one primary and one secondary source about a topic or event.
Students can see the value and limitations of primary and secondary sources by looking at examples of each side by side. You can ask students to discuss how the two types of sources differ, and to reflect on the benefits and challenges presented by each type.