Research Exploration Exercise

Submitted by Susan Archambault on August 6th, 2015
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Short Description: 

This assignment is designed to help students develop a thoughtful research topic. Students go through a series of steps, questions, and background reading to help them better understand and refine a research topic.

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Learning Outcomes: 
  • Conceptualize and refine an effective research topic
  • Value information and sources from different perspectives
  • Contextualize a research topic by drawing upon their own intellectual curiosity or personal experience

Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

This exercise is due week 3, usually before library instruction. As a result, the library created a 4-minute instruction video done as a pre-visit homework assignment called "Developing a Topic with CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints" available on this LibGuide:

Using a Topic Development exercise, students will explore and conduct preliminary research on three separate research topics. This is in conjunction with the Information Literacy component of the course as stated in "Rhetorical Arts: Speaking and Writing for Social Justice" common syllabus. A requirement for all first-year students, Rhetorical Arts is a course designed specifically to integrate important skills- information literacy, writing, and public speaking- into the Jesuit Rhetorical Tradition "Eloquentia Perfecta." Students will also engage with important ethical themes related to the common good. 

This is the first assignment in a sequence of writing and oral assignments (followed by a Research Proposal, Annotated Bibliography, Persuasive Research Paper, etc.). Each successive assignment expands on the previous assignments.

Assessment or Criteria for Success
(e.g. rubric, guidelines, exemplary sample paper, etc.): 
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Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 

Some students may think this is busy work. Don't allow students to turn this in at the end of the semester with their final paper, as this defeats the purpose of sequencing assignments.

Suggested Citation: 
Archambault, Susan. "Research Exploration Exercise." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2015.