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Sharing and Developing Research Topics

Assignment Summary

PART ONE: Have students bring a research question to class (a research question is simply a starting point for their research. Examples are: "Is racial profiling an acceptable practice in law enforcement?" or "Should genetic engineering be regulated by the government?"). Tell them it's now time to share their research project with the class. Have them post their research question to the Discussion Board, and then briefly explain their research project. Ask the following: What is your position on your topic? What evidence do you think you'll use to support your position? How will you defend your position against counterarguments?

PART TWO: After students have posted their questions and topics, ask them to browse the Board and read and respond to their classmates' topics. Respond to at least ten other topics. Consider the following when responding: Is the research question interesting/innovative? (If an argument is required, ask: Is the topic an argument topic? Does it suggest a need for change or does it offer a controverisal explanation? If not, is there a way to reframe the topic so that it is an argument topic?) Can you suggest any additional sources of evidence? Can you think of a counterargument that may be difficult to refute?

Encourage students to fully discuss their ideas on the board by reacting to someone's post, asking for elaboration, or clarifing their statements in response to someone's comments.

Instructor's Comments

This exercise helps students narrow and focus their research topic by sharing their topic with others. It also helps students recognize the importance of a good research question.
genre research essay
course WRT 102
activity type class discussion (Blackboard discussion board)
duration 1 class
research question formulated for research essay
handouts: n/a
contributor: Leanne Warshauer