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Before students begin researching their topic, ask them to respond to questions that give them space to reflect on their previous knowledge of the topic, any potential lived experiences, and emotions the topic may elicit.
Sample questions to ask to encourage students to explore their pre-existing emotions and knowledge (including lived and academic) of the topic:
Students need guidance to learn that different audiences create different types of sources. Students also need an opportunity to explore how different audiences consider different types of sources more or less appropriate as valid forms of evidence. Before students begin gathering their own evidence from sources, ask students to explore stakeholders who might be interested in this topic, and then consider what that audience’s interest or perspective on the topic might be, and what types of evidence that audience uses when sharing information.
Sample question prompts for encouraging students to explore who else might be interested in this topic and why:
Direct students to this table as a systematic way to start thinking about how audience, claims, criteria and evidence intersect, along with search tools that are useful for different types of questions. Ask students to fill in the Stakeholder column based on their topic.
|Questions||Evidence||Stakeholders||Example Research Tools|
|What does the research say?||Scholarly articles, Whitepapers, Books, etc.|
|What do the numbers say?||Statistics, Profits, Ratings, etc.|
|What do the tastemakers say?||Editorials, Celebrity testimonials, Reviews, etc.|
|What does the public say?||Box Office, Attendance, Sales rates, Votes, etc.|
|What do the experts say?||Reviews, Editorials, Opinions, Books, etc.|
After students identify their topic and delve deeper into searching for sources, they can find it tempting to move away from exploration behaviors. However, the more information students have, the more sophisticated their exploration strategies can become. At this stage, reinforce the concept that asking questions is an iterative process, and find ways to reward students for using the information they are finding to ask new (and hopefully richer) questions. Occasionally, these questions will be targeted questions, in which the student seeks specific facts - and there is a place for those types of questions. But encourage students not to get hung up on fact cherry-picking missions, and instead demonstrate the advantages of more open-ended question asking.
Sample question prompts that encourage iterative searching:
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