Teaching Research Skills and Methods
Because students tend to think of research as a stage in the writing process that falls between developing a topic and drafting a paper, it may be useful to stress that continuous research is part of the writing process. It may be helpful to reassure students that as papers develop they frequently send us searching for more information, and that that’s a good thing.
We’ve broken our discussion of teaching research skills into three sections:
- Modeling research skills
- Revising while researching
- Thinking critically and creatively about research
Modeling Research Skills
Many high schools lack access to the academic databases regularly used in college-level research, so it can be helpful to students for you to take some time to model your own approaches to:
- Finding sources online.
- Evaluating sources.
- Determining how and when to cite information.
- Skimming an article to decide if it will be useful.
- Identifying conventions for titles, abstracts, footnotes, and indexes, and determining how they might be useful in finding additional sources.
Revising While Researching
You might ask students to try:
- Brainstorming search terms when you workshop theses.
- Peer reviewing and revising their annotated bibliographies.
- Developing a broad bibliography first, then winnowing their sources for an annotated bibliography.
- Revising a summary or blog post into an annotated bibliography entry.
Encouraging Critical & Creative Research
Students might think more broadly about research by:
- Building “topic maps” that help them determine search terms for research.
- Using low-stakes writing to develop questions that will help them flesh out their topics
- Blogging about their annotated bibliographies.
- Free-writing about the challenges of research before discussing common stumbling blocks (and brainstorming solutions) as a class.