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Creating Research Assignments

Examples of Low Stakes Research Assignments

Mind mapping, concept mapping, or sketchnoting- visual notes that include handwriting, drawings, and other visual elements like arrows, lines, and boxes. This helps students push through linear organization structures in their research and writing.

Note-taking- Have an assignment be specifically on students informal notes. Notes could include not only include summaries and main points, but also connections to other information and relevance to their topic/writing project.

Annotated Bibliography- This could be a little more formal version of mind-mapping and note-taking. Annotated bibliographies often contain a working citation, a summary of the source, an evaluation of the source's credibility, and a description of how the source is relevant to their topic/writing project. See:

Structured note-taking- Examples of this include KWL (know, want to know, learned), literature review tables, and general documents with guiding questions.

Believing/Doubting activity- Have student take a set amount of time (5 minutes) to write about why they agree with what the author is presenting in a source. Then have them take that same amount of time writing about what they don't agree with for that same source. 


Assignment Prompts to be Adapted:

"What was a topic that was covered in class this week? Write up a list of potential questions you still have about that topic or areas that you'd like to learn more about."

"Take a look at the bibliography of the last chapter assigned in the textbook. Are there any citations to journal articles? For each chapter we read, find one article that looks interesting to you and write an annotation for it."


Guidance for High Stakes Assignments

Research suggests better results stem from: timely feedback, focus on high-level goals, a tangible audience beyond the teacher of the course, and having students write early in the research process (Nelson & Hayes, How the Writing Context.) Here are some ways to include opportunities for that in your high stakes research assignments.

Mini-assignments- Have some of the low stakes assignments mentioned above be steps along the way when working towards a more high stakes writing assignment.

Joining the Conversation- Encourage students to not only report out what they read, but also to contribute to the conversation. The goal of a high stakes writing assignment should be different than a summary of sources.

Initial drafts- Having students write early initial drafts will help to identify where students have additional information needs. Research and writing is an iterative process; finding relevant and credible information is something that can take place throughout the process.

Information Literacy Rubric