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Oh the research project… Where the most important part of an assignment (the research) is often forgotten in order to attend to one of the lesser parts – like a fancy title page or a brightly coloured poster. So how do you get students to focus on the research when they all seem to want to jump ahead?

Introducing the research project without the product – no poster, no essay, no presentation!

For our unit in Social Studies right now, the students are working on researching one aspect of Mesopotamia without completing a final project. I want to see their thinking, questions, research and sources but that’s it – no frills!

This is the format I have been using to engage the students:

Step 1: What do you already know about the topic? Write a few points to show where you are starting from and what we’ve already talked about in class.

Step 2: What questions do you have on your topic? Write 4-5 questions you have about your topic. Make sure you choose questions that show deeper thinking.

Step 3: Where are you going to gather your sources from? Write down the names of any internet sites or books in which you gathered information.

Step 4: Write down all your notes on your research topic. Make sure you are linking your research back to your topic questions from step 2.

And that’s it! I’m collecting their notes and marking that they completed each step thoroughly. Although there was originally a lot of questions about the assignment, and confusion on why there was no final product, it has been going fairly smoothly.

As always, if you give it a try let us know how it goes!

What other ways do you use to engage students in the research process?

Meaghan