Getting Students Engaged with the Research Writing Process
One way to help students engage with the research process is to create an Inquiry Journal assignment. You might begin by discussing the process of inquiry as follows:
Example: Research Process Assignment
Inquiry is a process. Through it, we aim to earn our position about the issue we're arguing about by considering all the options instead of only pursuing those that might support our initial ideas.
Inquiry starts by listening to the conversation going on around and about our issue. It then involves engaging with the texts in that conversation. Engaging can take the form of dialoguing (thinking critically about what we've read, asking questions of the text, comparing our values with the values presented in the text) and/or being critical of the text (analyzing the text using the analysis skills we learned in Unit 1). The goal of the Inquiry Journal is not only to record your process of inquiry but also to facilitate it by foregrounding the parts of the inquiry process and keeping everything organized.
Based on the type of assignment the students are doing, you should specify how many sources you want them to consult and how many sources should end up being used in the final paper. Then you might provide guidelines such as the following:
The first entry of the journal should record your initial thoughts or opinions on your topic (2-3 paragraphs).
Each subsequent entry in your journal should clearly document the text with which you're engaging by citing the text in bibliographic format and briefly summarizing it (2-3 sentences).
The majority of each entry should demonstrate how you're engaging with the text (1-2 paragraphs). You can choose to do this a number of ways by:
Analyzing of the thing(s) that stood out to you the most
Explaining what influenced you the most and why
Listing questions you have (particularly questions you're asking of the text)
Comparing your previous thoughts with the ones the text presents
The last component of your Journal should briefly sum up (2-3 paragraphs) how the process of inquiry has shaped the claim you wish to make in your argument-in other words, how the process influenced what you think about your issue or how your opinion on the issue has changed based on what you read.
The total journal should be approximately 7 pages in length.
The Inquiry Journal assignment can be turned in with a final draft or prior to the submission of a final draft. Through this assignment, you can see how closely and critically a student is reading sources, and you can familiarize yourself with the sources before reading the student's final product. Additionally, if none of the sources end up in the final product, you have a red flag that can clue you in to the integrity of the text.