Winchester Community High School
Winchester, Indiana
 765-584-8201 x1500 / 800-215-8201

Student Research

Student Tips for Research    Research Model          Search Tips
Research Model  The Savvy 7

Using a GOOD web search engine!  The National Commom Core Standards which WCHS is preparing for, includes students acquiring knowledge to evaluate and select "good" internet search engines to work effectively.  Click on the link below to learn more about a variety of search engines.
Educational Search Engines

What is the Question?
Go beyond a topic of "fact-finding" to create a "smart question", one that is essential, elaborating, probing or even irreverent.  From this one overarching question, break your search into a few or several "investigative" questions.  Identify what you already know and then choose keywords and phrases to use in your search for what you want to learn.  Examples of questions are:
Topic - Biomes, Civil War
Simple Question (this type of question can be answered with a fact found in a book, on a webpage, etc.) - What is the definition of a tundra?   When was the Emancipation Proclamation signed?
Investigative Question (this question requires more probing research to answer)- How does the food chain operate in a rainforest?  After the first major conflict of the Civil War, how did people's attitudes change about the war?
Essential Question (this is the overarching question that drives research; it is made up of many investigative questions that leads the researcher to an observation on the question based on this research)-  We consider progress in the civilized world to be a good thing.  What are the long term effects of progress on the biomes of the world?  If the Civil War had been televised on TV,  would this have affected the people and the overall outcome of the war?

What Resources Should I Use?
Look for quality primary and secondary sources of information (people, places, things, books, periodicals, images, video, etc.) in your school or other libraries, in the community and on the World Wide Web.  Choose those resources that best suit your research question and that are accessible to you.

How Do I Find Information?
You need both "technical" and "thoughtful" literacy skills to find information within your identified resources.  Your ability to conduct an interview, search through a catalog or index, use a computer, and access web portals or web search engines are greatly enhanced by also knowing how to scan for appropriate content, then expand or narrow your search through use of appropriate us of synonyms, antonyms, and Boolean logic.
Check out the article 'Search Strategy' on this menu for tips on searching the internet more effectively.

How Do I Gather Information?
Once you find potential information for your research, engage with it through reading, listening and viewing in more depth.  This is the "first cut" process.  If information is valuable to helping you answer your investigative questions, then capture it for later review.  Take quality notes (paraphrase), record audio or video, take photographs; download images, files and articles from web sources; or copy and paste text from web pages into a word processing document.  Be sure to note citations (and/or make links)of your sources as you gather content
For Noodletools & Citation Machine links as well as works cited examples, select 'Works Cited Tools' on the Media Center Menu.

Which Information Do Use?
It is now time to critically examine the information gathered to determine its ultimate value to your research.  Ask yourself: Is the content as current as it needs to be for the questions asked?; Is it from a valid and credible source?; What is the bias of the information source?; Is the information truly pertinent to the essential question or just somewhat related to the topic?  At this point you must also determine if you have too much (choose the best, discard the rest), or not enough (search for more) quality information that you can legally use for your project.

How Do I Share What I Learned?
Communicating what you have learned in your research is an important step even if you did the research just to inform yourself.  You may have already determined the type of sharing project to create: a research paper, booklet, article, essay, website, speech, multimedia presentation, video, etc.  In this stage you create the components that will comprise your finished product targeted to a specific audience.  Organize the information by: rewriting it in your own words, creating tables and graphs as numeric data, adding captions to images, and then by synthesizing the relevant ideas in a cohesive manner and drawing defensible conclusions.

How Do I Evaluate My Work?
The evaluation stage of research should address both process and product.  To judge the process, ask yourself:  Was my research process thorough?...efficient?; How could I make it more thorough...more efficient?; Did I use a variety of appropriate primary and secondary sources?  Assess the product according to assignment guidelines or a pre-established rubric, addressing such questions as in my product effective in answering the question?; Is it appropriate for the target audience?; Is it informative, persuasive, creative, entertaining?; Is my conclusion supported well by the evidence presented?; and, Has my information been attributed correctly?