5 Methods to Teach Students How to do Research PapersBy Room 241 Team • January 30, 2013
When teaching students how to construct research papers, the scaffolding method is an effective option. This method allows students to research and then organize their information. The scaffold provides understandable support for expository papers. Students greatly benefit from having the majority of the research and proper structure in place before even starting the paper.
With well-prepared references, students are able to:
- Study informational text
- Practice strategies that are genre-specific for expository writing
- Use an inquiry-based approach
- Work individually
- Work collaboratively
The following tips and methodologies build off the initial preparation:
- Students formulate a logical thesis that expresses a perspective on their research subject.
- Students practice their research skills. This includes evaluating their sources, summarizing and paraphrasing significant information, and properly citing their sources.
- The students logically group and then sequence their ideas in expository writing.
- They should arrange and then display their information on maps, graphs and charts.
- A well-written exposition is focused on the topic and lists events in chronological order.
Formulating a research question
An example research paper scaffold and student research paper should be distributed to students. The teacher should examine these with the students, reading them aloud.
Using the example research paper, discuss briefly how a research paper answers a question. This example should help students see how a question can lead to a literature review, which leads to analysis, research, results and finally, a conclusion.
Give students a blank copy of the research paper Scaffold and explain that the procedures used in writing research papers follow each section of the scaffold. Each of those sections builds on the one before it; describe how each section will be addressed in future sessions.
Consider using Internet research lessons to help students understand how to research using the web.
Have students collect and print at least five articles to help them answer their research question. Students should use a highlighter to mark which sections pertain specifically to their question. This helps students remain focused on their research questions.
The five articles could offer differing options regarding their research questions. Be sure to inform students that their final paper will be much more interesting if it examines several different perspectives instead of just one.
Have students bring their articles to class. For a large class, teachers should have students highlight the relevant information in their articles and then submit them for assessment prior to the beginning of class.
Once identification is determined as accurate, students should complete the Literature Review section of the scaffold and list the important facts from their articles on the lines numbered one through five.
Students need to compare the information they have found to find themes.
Explain that creating a numbered list of potential themes, taken from different aspects proposed in the literature collected, can be used for analysis.
The student’s answer to the research question is the conclusion of the research paper. This section of the research paper needs to be just a few paragraphs. Students should include the facts supporting their answer from the literature review.
Students may want to use the conclusion section of their paper to point out the similarities and/or discrepancies in their findings. They may also want to suggest that further studies be done on the topic.Learn More: Click to view related resources. Tags: Assessment Tools
From Theory to Practice
Students will use scaffolding to research and organize information for writing a research paper. A research paper scaffold provides students with clear support for writing expository papers that include a question (problem), literature review, analysis, methodology for original research, results, conclusion, and references. Students examine informational text, use an inquiry-based approach, and practice genre-specific strategies for expository writing. Depending on the goals of the assignment, students may work collaboratively or as individuals. A student-written paper about color psychology provides an authentic model of a scaffold and the corresponding finished paper. The research paper scaffold is designed to be completed during seven or eight sessions over the course of four to six weeks.
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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
O'Day, S. (2006) Setting the stage for creative writing: Plot scaffolds for beginning and intermediate writers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
- Research paper scaffolding provides a temporary linguistic tool to assist students as they organize their expository writing. Scaffolding assists students in moving to levels of language performance they might be unable to obtain without this support.
- An instructional scaffold essentially changes the role of the teacher from that of giver of knowledge to leader in inquiry. This relationship encourages creative intelligence on the part of both teacher and student, which in turn may broaden the notion of literacy so as to include more learning styles.
- An instructional scaffold is useful for expository writing because of its basis in problem solving, ownership, appropriateness, support, collaboration, and internalization. It allows students to start where they are comfortable, and provides a genre-based structure for organizing creative ideas.
Biancarosa, G., and Snow, C. E. (2004.) Reading next-A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
- In order for students to take ownership of knowledge, they must learn to rework raw information, use details and facts, and write.
- Teaching writing should involve direct, explicit comprehension instruction, effective instructional principles embedded in content, motivation and self-directed learning, and text-based collaborative learning to improve middle school and high school literacy.
- Expository writing, because its organizational structure is rooted in classical rhetoric, needs to be taught.
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