Resources for English Composition Instructors
Last modified: August 8, 2011
The first step in the research process is choosing and narrowing a good topic. Students need to choose a topic that is current, controversial, and that has many different view points. Students often choose topics that are too broad and in turn, have a hard time finding sources.
During the first week of the controversy analysis unit, you should make sure your students are aware of the tutorials and resources available on the English Composition Course Page. These tutorials and resources will help students choose and narrow a topic.
Make sure your students complete these two tutorials:
This tutorial should be required of all students. In this tutorial, students are shown how to access CQ Researcher and other databases in order to explore possible topics.
Narrow Your Topic
This tutorial shows students how to narrow a topic by answering a set of questions.
English Composition Course Page Exercise
Have students get to know the English Composition Course Page and discover some of the most helpful library resources and services.
Creating a Research Question
Using examples from several broad topic areas, this exercise will help students develop a more narrow research question.
Before they start their paper, have your students determine a timeline, and plan their research project.
Brainstorming with CQ Researcher
This exercise has students brainstorm and narrow topics using CQ Researcher. You can edit the document and remove the CQ Researcher part, if you want.
Last modified: December 22, 2011
Beginning the Research
Once students have chosen a suitable topic, they should begin the process of locating background information. CQ Researcher is a great starting point. You can also encourage students to use the encyclopedias on the English Composition Course Page in order to locate some articles for background reading.
Students hold off using databases until they have a firm grasp on their topic. This means being able to discuss it some and having a list of keywords that they will able to use for searching. The Coming Up with Keywords exercise should help with this.
Students are used to searching Google but searching Library databases can be quite different. Make sure your students are aware of the differences between Google and library databases with this exercise: Google vs. library databases
Once students have a solid foundation for their topic or research question, have them complete the Academic Search Complete Tutorial.
If you want students to use a book, have them complete the UA Library Catalog. Once they finish this tutorial, you can ask them to visit the Library and get a book. This exercise will help them find a book in the library: Find a Book for Your Essay
Other Suggested Exercises
Beginning Research, Online Searching Tutorial
You can assign this tutorial to students or show it in class. This tutorial takes students through the process of selecting and using key words effectively.
Academic Search Complete Features
Students become familiar with the some of the features of Academic Search Complete through different searches. This is a good exercise to check for students' ability to use ASC.
Library Research Exercise
A good exercise to have students do independently or as a class. This exercise asks students to develop some search strategies and then try them out in a library database.
Find a Book Exercise
A great exercise to help students find a book using the Library Catalog.
Last modified: January 26, 2012
Furthering Students' Research
Using Additional Databases
The suggested exercise below will help students become familiar with different databases:
Students identify a relevant database and take steps to locate an article. Students are also asked to evaluate and share database features with classmates. This a good exercises for group work.
Scholarly and Popular Articles
Students locate and compare two different articles, one popular and one scholarly on the same topic.
Many students will start their research with a web engine search. This exercise asks students to evaluate two websites critically and then make a conclusion as to whether or not they are reliable resources.
Last modified: January 26, 2012
Using the Research
Once students have found and, of course, read their sources, it is time for them to start integrating those sources in their papers. Students need to be made aware of both why and how they should use these sources. You can implement some strategies from the onset of the semester to avoid student plagiarism: Best Practices for Reducing Plagiarism.
In order for students to understand the why, you can have them view these tutorials from YouTube either in class or on their own. They are a fun way to introduce students to the importance of citing sources and the penalties of plagiarizing.
In addition, you should also have students view the Accidental Plagiarism tutorial on the English Course Guide page.
In order for students to better understand MLA, you can direct them to the Citation Guide.
Missing Citation Information
In this short exercise, students are asked to locate the missing parts of a citation by using the Library Catalog or a database.
In this exercise, students are given a list of citations and must rewrite them in MLA style.
Last modified: January 30, 2012