Digital Inquiry Megan Burton Home Learn More Standards Inspiration About the Author
Inquiry takes time, reflection, and persistence as students discover real and relevant questions about academic topics, but the research that results “allows students to create products worth sharing” (Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014).
Students in the 21st century need to conduct research and need to sort through inordinate amounts of information. It doesn't matter which content area, career path, or interest a student has, research is part of the acquisition of knowledge and supports one's understanding of the world.
Even though research is such an important part of student inquiry and their learning in the 21st century, my students were getting frustrated and distracted. I wanted to know what was getting in my students' way in the research process, what they would like to see implemented in further projects/topics, as well as what next steps I should take based on their responses. So, I asked my students what sources they were using, how they felt at various points of their research, and what they thought would work for them and their classmates.
My Action Research
I gathered qualitative data through formative assessments (questionnaires and reflections) that are a consistent and natural part of my classroom practices. The open-response questions were designed to gather students' reflective, personal explanations in a qualitative, descriptive manner. I also used a Likert Scale to gather quantitative information about the students' thoughts, feelings, and actions during the research process. Students' responses provided insight into what was getting in their way in the research process as well as ideas for next steps I would take as a result of data collection.
I also recorded observations during my students' research process through field notes and my own reflections through journaling. This helped me gain a whole picture of what was going on for my students during their research as I recorded students' actions that they may not have been cognizant of at the time. This freed my students' brains to focus on the research tasks at hand and then be metacognitive during specific moments in formative assessments and reflections. After gathering data, I discussed my findings with my students and found other great insights about how much information students need at different phases of their research. Some students needed to see just what is assigned at the time, but most students needed to see how the work they were doing fit into the whole project.
Further Information and Details
The links to the top right of this webpage will supply you with the following information and details:
Students Need to See Where They Are in the Research Process
Once a project or inquiry has begun, students race off to complete tasks quickly and are able to immerse themselves in their topics while others need intensive support to get going in their tasks. No matter where students are in their research process, they need to see how their experiences connect to the project as a whole.
This infographic will be used to explain to students the phases that they experience in every project in my Social Studies classes. My students are accustomed to the various tasks, such as Cornell Notes, narrowing topics, conducting research, creating final products, preparing for presentations, and reflecting on their experiences. However, as I teach them about the Guided Inquiry Design framework, it's helpful for my students to see how their current work relates to the overall process, allowing them to have more autonomy through their own understanding.
"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose."
-Zora Neale Hurston
Standards and Frameworks
The following standards emphasize the need for students to conduct research by using relevant, verifiable information from credible sources:
Common Core State Standards
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students
College, Career, and Civic Life, or C3, Framework for Social Studies State Standards
California’s History-Social Science Framework
Recommended Tools for Students' Research
I've found it best to keep it simple when using tools and apps with students' research and recommend these: