Many students report that they have a hard time doing research or following the news because they don’t know where to start, they don’t understand the context, and they have a hard time with the vocabulary. The truth is that even experienced writers and researchers feel the same way about a lot of the reading they are doing, too. The key is to dive in, take notes, generate new questions, and look up stuff that you don’t understand. Once you start to figure things out, it gets easier and easier.
In this unit, you will be asked apply the concepts you learned in Unit 1. In Unit 1, you learned about rhetorical research and information literacy. In the final module (Unit 3) you will be creating your own source to join that conversation. However, before you will be able to do that effectively, you need to gain as much knowledge as possible about the issue and the conversation that you will be joining. Therefore, in this module, you will narrow your topic to a specific research question, conduct effective targeted research, ask good questions, and choose those sources that have the biggest impact on your understanding of the issue and/or best enhance your understanding of the various perspectives about it. In Unit 2, you will focus on these aspects of information literacy:
Research as inquiry: effective researchers use questions to drive their research
Research as strategic exploration: effective researchers use a variety of methods to gather accurate information efficiently.
Information creation as a process: effective researchers recognize that information is packaged and choose sources that best suit their own purposes.
Scholarship as conversation: effective researchers try to understand the conversation on a topic before contributing to that conversation
Information has value: we have ethical and legal obligations to find accurate information and credit our sources.
In order to help you narrow the topic you explored in Unit 1 to a research question in Unit 2, we will complete an assignment called “Writing Your Research Question.”
For your Unit 2 project, you will submit a series of 3 blog posts and a reflection. In preparation for each post, you will conduct research on your specific research question. After you have chosen the best sources on that topic (given all that you’ve learned about researching rhetorically and information literacy), you will then summarize the sources you’ve chosen to share, discuss why they are useful (how they help you understand the potential answers to your research question), and you will keep track of new questions you have about the topic to help you with the next post. Importantly, for information to be useful, it has to be information that you didn’t already know and it has to be written in a way that you can understand.
Keep in mind that the most effective researchers don’t settle on the very first sources we find in Google. Instead, we look at a few different sources/links and then decide which ones are best. For example, if I were trying to find out if a movie was a good movie, I might read 2-3 different reviews and then decide that one of those reviews was significantly better than the others–it’s the one that had the most information, or the one that most influenced my decision to see (or not see) the movie. If I was explaining to a friend why I chose not to see the movie, I might paraphrase that review. Similarly, for each blog post, you may need to read over three or four articles/sources on a topic before you find one that is reliable and does the best job of answering the question you set out to answer for that particular blog. Then, you will focus on that particular source (or sources) for your blog post. Choosing a good source will be a part of your grade.
Writing Purpose: While the goal of the project is for you to learn something, you might see your blog posts as polished written texts with your instructor as the audience.You want to persuade your instructor that you are exploring effectively by demonstrating intellectual curiosity, rhetorical reading and an open mind. You will want to show that you are learning something new about your topic with each new blog post, and will ultimately want to show how the process has impacted your understanding of the issue and the focus of your research project. You’ll also want to revise your post so that it is well written and easy to follow.
Note: Keep in mind that while each blog might seem like a small task, these blogs together make up a paper/project grade and have a significant impact on your final grade in this course. Therefore, please make sure that you are answering all the questions in the blogs, revising your answers so that they are well-written, and posting reliable sources (not unreliable sources or “fake news”).
I recommend first typing your posts in a Word Doc or Google Doc, and then copying/pasting the finished product on to the discussion board.
Each research blog will be worth 20 points (totaling 60% of the grade for this project).
After the last discussion board, you will turn in a project reflection, which will be worth 40 points (40% of your grade for this project). Here is the criteria for that assignment:
Does the project reflection include a revised statement of research? Does that statement reflect a thorough and thoughtful engagement with the sources you studied? (15%)
Does the reflection show that you have thought carefully about how the research you’ve done has impacted your research focus and your views on research? (20%)
Is the writing organized and polished, and does it show evidence of an effective proofreading and editing process? (5%)