Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Research Papers

I believe that one of the most difficult aspects of my job is trying to teach students how to write research papers. The entire process can be quite intimidating, especially for students who are just learning the steps necessary for successfully completing the project. Students usually do not thrill to this opportunity, either. The paper is completed out of obligation, not any form of excitement. Needless to say, all of these factors add up to make the research process one of the most difficult during the course of any school year.

Each year that I have taught, I have tried to improve my methods for teaching the research paper. My first year, I had no idea what lay ahead of me, and I simply worked with what I remembered from my high school and college classes. Not having any feedback from actual high school students, it was honestly the best that I could do. During my second year, I tried to really address the concerns I had from my first year. I tried to help guide the students through the process, by repeating the important concepts and giving them opportunities to see models of correct papers.

I have not felt that I have been a total success in my teaching of the research process. I still receive papers that are quite messy and others that are obviously first drafts. Occasionally, however, I do come across papers that make me feel as if I am doing something right. I have created links to three papers, that, while not perfect, do serve as examples of student learning and application. The links to the papers are below:

Ambition in MacBeth

Ambition in The Pelican Brief

Corruption in The Pelican Brief

These papers are all excellent examples of high school student texts and do, to a certain extent, make me proud of the job that I have done in trying to teach the research process.

I do not, unfortunately, have any examples of weaker papers. I never thought to scan copies of poor papers. I cannot exactly say why, although I do intend to use the above papers as class samples during my third year of teaching. The poor papers would be a good tool to document my use of comments as part of the teaching process, but that aspect will need to wait for another day, if I choose to upload such a paper at all.

Going into my third year of teaching, I also created two documents to help students with their research papers. The links are below:

Writing Reference Guide

Writing the Perfect Research Paper

Finally, I also advise students who are struggling to pay a visit to the OWL at Purdue University, as the site has excellent writing tips.

Written: 8/8/07

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