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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rah, Rah, Research Papers

Those of you who've followed this blog for a while know that I'm a great believer in student research projects. And (probably because I'm not the one that will have to grade them) I am also a great believer in having students write research papers.

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.
They've developed a templates, teaching guides, and handouts for each step.

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.

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