Lower stakes, less scary

Halloween postcard: Bobbing for apples
Image from New York Public Library Digital Gallery

Halloween seems like a fitting time to discuss library research anxiety.  Though I’ll spare you an extensive literature review, I shall share a most interesting article on the subject.

Stewart-Mailhiot (2014) applies the idea of low-stakes writing assignments to library research.  She notes that, as with high-stakes writing, high-stakes research assignments can contribute to anxiety.  Reviewing the literature on both library anxiety and low-stakes writing, she even suggests some possible low-stakes research assignments (p. 39).  The suggestions address a variety of learning outcomes and can reinforce a library visit (pp. 39-40 ).

High-stakes assignments and low-stakes assignments need not be mutually exclusive, of course.  The latter can provide useful practice and build confidence for the former (p. 40).

Doing research may not be a party game.  All the same it need not be so scary.


Stewart-Mailhiot, A. (2014). Same song, different verse: Developing research skills with low stakes assignments. Communications In Information Literacy, 8(1), 32-42. Retrieved  from http://www.comminfolit.org/