Research means different things to different people. Some view research
as synonomous with the scientific method, while others view it as any form of inquiry. There are
a variety of research methods that can be used, depending on the phemonema studied, including
quantitative, experimental, qualitative, or ethnographic. New ways of conceptualizing research are
being developed every day, and students should be open to multiple ways of thinking about inquiry.
- Encourage students to think about and be critical of information they gather as they do their
research. Where does the information come from? What underlying viewpoint is the author trying to
get across? How persuasive is their argument? Is the information tainted by some pre-defined
point-of-view? Critical examination of a logical argument is a valuable skill and students can
learn how to examine information from a variety of resources, including printed and on-line, for
their validity, authority, and objectivity.
- Research should broadly consider sources for information. Traditional classroom research has
focused on printed references available in the library or media center. Newer forms of information
are availabe on-line, but should be critically examined for their accuracy, viewpoint, and objectivity.
Similar criteria for evaluating mass media, including TV, can be used to assess other forms of
electronic information such as the Internet.
- Involve students in group discussions of research methods and results. Part of the power of
research is in the ability to promote
discussion about the issues and ideas that result from inquiry. These types of social interaction are a
productive learning experience for everyone.
- Take advantage of the support for other teachers and staff within your school, your
district, and elsewhere. Media support personal and librarians, for example, can suggest student
resources for research. There are also discussion lists available on the Internet oriented
toward many forms of research, both quanititative and qualitative. For example, the Usenet group,
alt.education.research, is dedicated to discussions about
educational research. Join this discussion list and learn from the people who frequent
it as much as you can about research.
- Download free or shareware software to support Research, statistical analysis, and qualititative
analysis. The Related Resources section has links to Websites where these
tools can be downloaded, and the Professional Growth big idea has references to Websites that
contain shareware or free software.
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