Assignment Architecture in Research ORHigher Order Thinking ResearchH.O.T. RESEARCHOur research assignments need to require students to think!Test your assignment by asking this one question: Can students complete this assignment by copying and pasting?
Status Quo Assignmen​t Examples:
  • Make a poster about X.
  • Research X.
  • Compare and contrast X. (This would be great if they really compared and contrasted instead of just doing TWO reports.)
  • Do a report on X.

What's wrong with these assignments?
  • No thinking and little reading is required. Research about ANYTHING you might assign has already been done and is on the Internet.
  • We need to teach before we assign. (How to search, which sources to use, how to document and cite sources, how to evaluate information.)
  • Assignment requirements should consistently require students to document their sources using a standardized format.
  • Students need to use best sources rather than the first link that comes up in Google.

New Problems:
  • Students "research" for assignments and then present their findings to peers. Often the "information" they found is incorrect. However, each student, in turn, stands before the class and teaches them things that are not true! Would students throughout the world be better off NOT coming to school?
  • Teachers cannot monitor the correctness of information presented and turned in because the assignments are so vast and time is limited. (No teacher knows everything about all the countries of the world -- Well, Mrs. Jorgenson might -- or all the people studied during a biography assignment.)

Missed opportunities:
  • We want students to be lifelong learners. Not just in the future, but now, outside the limited time they are in school. Students need to learn how to learn. Each research assignment given should build upon that.
  • No one can memorize all the "important information" in any field let alone in all fields. While some memorization is in order even though that is just a Knowledge level on Bloom's, students need to learn where to get reliable information for various subject areas. (There is no one size fits all.)
  • An extension of a research project could be to have students prove whether or not information that their peers found in completed assignments using reliable resources.
  • Research assignments call for a discussion of ethics and honoring others' work as well as our own work.

Our Assignment Architecture Must Change to Reflect Changing Standards and Expectations

Research Assignments that Require Thinking
    1. Point of View
      • Present information from a different point of view. Example 1: When studying the American Revolutionary War, students could research British resources to determine the British point of view regarding an event.
      • Students present biographical information from the point of view of the biographee (first person) or someone in the person's life.
    2. From Joyce Valenza, a suggested blog template structure for students to use during research. Here is her SLJ article listing 5 reasons students should blog during the research process.
    3. See also: Research Projects
    4. Writing Alternatives
      • Write a poem. Students will need to read about the subject, think, and create using and documenting reliable resources.
      • Write a screenplay. " "
    5. Make a decision. List pros and cons first.
    6. Solve a problem. Use a graphic organizer to brainstorm.
    7. Compare and contrast two items. Start by listing all of the things you should compare. Do NOT allow students to just write two separate "reports".