Sample Research Strategy Lesson Plan


Students will understand how to narrow a broad research topic and choose research tools that match their information needs.

Learning objectives:

  1. Learn techniques for narrowing a broad research topic.
  2. Learn about types of sources.
  3. Use finding aids to identify different types of sources.
  4. Reflect on efficiency, appropriate uses of various research tools.
  5. Create a resource list of research tools and preliminary sources.

Pre-class readings/tutorials:

In class resources:

A. Instructor Lecture -- PowerPoint with discussion questions (to be developed by GA)

Duration: 30-40 minutes
Overview: Is the "good enough" approach to research really good enough?  Rationale for having a strategy; opportunities for distraction/confusion (see Understanding Google Search Results movie), need to focus both topic itself and plan for attacking it; different categories of research tools and how each can contribute to a project (see Smart Research Strategies tutorial); using right tool for task can get you to goal more quickly.
Related student activity [knowledge building model*]:
Group activity:  Form 5 groups.  Ask students to write short reviews of tools (finding aids) in one of the 5 categories described in the tutorial to use for research on a suggested topic. They should try each tool listed in that category and write an annotation for each one to share with class, using WriteBoard wiki pages. Annotation should provide specific information about searches tried, results, potential usefulness, limitations or difficulty of use. These wiki pages can be shared with the class for discussion. Specific instructions for activity to be developed by GA.

B. PowerPoint Slideshow: How to Narrow a Research Topic

Duration: 00:03:30
Format: Slides with/without audio narration
Description: This animated PowerPoint presents a simple strategy for analyzing a broad research topic by asking five basic questions (who, what, where, when, why), along with specific examples of how to generate more specific research topics using this method.
Suggested uses:

C. Captivate Movie: Understanding Google Search Results

Format: Flash movie with/without audio narration
Duration:  00:02:59
Description:  Google is the most common starting point for research. Google results now include items from a variety of other databases (news, blogs, Books, Scholar, etc.). This movie introduces techniques for finding clues to quickly understand search results and browse them intelligently.
Suggested uses:

* Philip, Donald. "The Knowledge Building Paradigm: A Model of Learning for Net Generation Students." Innovate 3 (5). [PDF version reprinted here]

Lesson plan author: Nancy O'Hanlon
Last update: June 11, 2007