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Middle School at TASIS

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A Framework for Solving an Information Problem

Topic Research

A research assignment asks you to develop a thesis or answer a question. You must search for information on a specific topic, read and understand what is known about it, analyze that information and draw conclusions, and write about what you have learned. In creating a paper or project, you must use a format defined by your teacher, including the accepted forms of citation to indicate the sources you have used for your research. There are several accepted formats for citing sources correctly, but in the TASIS Middle School we have adopted the Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style for all subjects.

Writing a research paper requires equal amounts of organization, synthesis, and original thinking. Before you begin writing, you need to consider your objective and the process you will use to reach it. Initially you will select a broad subject, then you will narrow your focus to one or two specific topics from which you will develop your main idea.

The Big6™

One strategy that has been developed for breaking an information problem into manageable steps is called Big6™ Skills (Eisenberg and Berkowitz, 1987).  The Big6™ can also be simplified as the Super3: Plan, Do, and Review.

Consider this model as you think about the stages in your research process.

 Big6™ Skills

 Specific Research Skill

1. Task Definition 
  • Understand the information problem or the project you have been assigned
  • Choose a topic (narrowing or broadening)
  • Formulate research questions
2. Information Seeking Strategies

  • Select appropriate sources. Check requirements.
  • Use multiple resources:
    • Reference Books
    • Non-fiction Books
    • Periodicals
    • Electronic Resource/Internet
3. Location & Access
  • Select appropriate keywords for search
  • Search:
    • Library catalog
    • Print resources (understand library layout, Dewey)
    • Periodicals databases
    • Internet (use search engines, website evaluation, virtual libraries, teacher-selected sites)
  • Find information within print resources (use indexes, tables of contents)
4. Use of Information
  • Read
  • Evaluate the credibility of various sources
  • Take notes
  • Create an outline
5. Synthesis
  • Organize information from multiple sources
  • Write rough draft/final draft
  • Cite sources
  • Avoid plagiarism
6. Evaluation
  • Have you achieved your objective/solved the information problem?
  • How well did the process work?
  • How can you improve the process?


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