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Published March 18, 2019
Leslie Rush began her career leading a high school English classroom, where she experienced firsthand the need to teach students how to conduct research and effectively report their results in writing. This need only became more apparent as she transitioned into academia.
Rush, an associate dean for undergraduate programs and director of the University of Wyoming College of Education’s School of Teacher Education, co-wrote “Student Research Done Right! A Teacher’s Guide for High School and College Classes,” with veteran classroom teacher and teacher educator Lisa Scherff. The recently published book provides educators with the tools required to help their high school and college students successfully plan and write research papers.
“Lisa and I both saw that teachers might not have had coursework on conducting research, unless they had graduate degrees,” Rush says. “It was an area we felt that we could contribute, having been high school teachers and having learned about the conduct of empirical research through our graduate degrees. Since we had both supported graduate students through the process, we applied what we had learned assisting graduate students to a high school setting.”
The co-authors first set out to win over educators who have hesitated to include research in their curricula by making the case that research projects can strengthen a student’s reading, writing and critical thinking skills. They also posit that research can increase academic engagement when students are allowed to conduct research into something that piques their curiosity and personal interests.
“I think that empirical research projects help students see the relevance of what they are learning and help them to become not only better consumers of research, but also better producers of it. When students have choice and control, they are more motivated to engage with the learning process,” Rush says.
The book walks teachers through how to support students in developing research questions, finding credible sources, choosing research methods, writing a literature review and carrying out hands-on research. Activities described throughout can be used in classroom instruction to expose students to the fundamentals and support them as they carry out their own research.
“Empirical research allows students to focus on a particular question that interests them and to delve deeply into determining what data collection and analysis methods will best answer their questions,” Rush says.
Outside the classroom, the authors hope their book, and a renewed emphasis on research, will help high school and college students become more engaged citizens. Rush and Scherff hope that students’ ability to discriminate between credible and misleading news sources will be improved when they learn to critically analyze sources during research.
“The sheer amount of media messages that are present in teenagers’ lives is growing exponentially, and sometimes it is difficult for all of us -- adults and teens -- to separate fact from fiction, to take a critical eye to those media messages,” Rush says. “When kids become critical consumers and distributors of information, it has the potential to not only improve their lives, but also to improve the lives of everyone they are connected to.”
Teachers who would like to incorporate research into their curricula, or students who wish to improve their research abilities, can purchase the book here.