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Research Assignments

Virtual Library Director


Yuliya Lef

Dillon Campus

P.O. Box 1414
333 Fiedler Ave.
Dillon, CO 80435

Percolation & Scaffolding

When including a large research project consider allowing students weeks, months, or an entire semester to work on it. Break it up into smaller assignments. The piecemeal approach gives students time and opportunity to immerse in the project, to think about their topic, to understand it on a deeper level, to identify different perspectives, and to find their own voice within the conversation.

Carey, Benedict. How We Learn: The Surprising Truth about When, Where, and Why It Happens. Random House, 2014. EBSCOhost.
Chapter 7. Quitting Before You’re Ahead: The Accumulating Gifts of Percolation

Research Paper Assignment Example:

  • Topic and research question
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Reflection discussion
  • Thesis statement
  • Paper

Alternative Research Assignments

Understandably, you might not have a lot of time in your course for a research assignment. Consider substituting a research paper with an alternative assignment. Arguably, it could be more valuable in introducing students to your discipline.
  • Find and compare a scholarly journal article and a magazine article on the same topic. 
  • Identify important resources in a given discipline. Resources might include journals, websites, organizations, discussion groups, and other options, depending on the discipline. Ask students to annotate each resource explaining why they think it is important.
  • Identify a gap in the area of study, an issue that hasn’t been answered or addressed.
  • Design your own original study or experiment.

Reflection Assignments

Asking students to reflect on their research encourages them to focus on the process and not just the product, helping them to become better researchers.
  • ENG 121 Online Discussion
    State your thesis statement. Explain your research strategy. What library databases have you used so far and what keywords did you enter to search for your topic? Were you successful right away? Did you have to change your keywords? Did you employ any strategies to narrow down and to better focus your search results? Have you learned anything new about the opposing side of the argument? Have you learned anything new about your side? Then please respond to two other students in the class suggesting additional research strategies for their topics.