I still remember writing my first research paper in 10th grade (about 15th century Jewish mystic Isaac Luria.) I remember how impossible I thought it would be to write 10 pages, how hard I wrestled with the material, how difficult it was to put together a coherent argument, and how proud I was of my accomplishment.
Writing that research paper was formative, and it is one reason I agree with John Schmidt and Jeff Treppa when they write, "we firmly believe that the research paper has been around for a long time for a reason: it’s the best way to engage students in sophisticated historical reasoning and prepare them for the academic world beyond high school."
I'm also very impressed with the 7-part research paper process they developed, which includes learning how to
- narrow down a historical topic,
- ask a research question to help focus research,
- find and evaluate sources,
- take notes,
- establish claims,
- draft an outline with a thesis,
- write a rough draft, and
- create a final paper.
Learn more about the process these master teachers use (and why they believe that research papers are still worth assigning) in the post they wrote for teachinghistory.org.