CATEGORIES: Foundation Courses

ENGL 250 – Research Project

Photo of Kelli Fitzpatrick
Kelli Fitzpatrick
Photo of Shalini Singh
Shalini Singh
Photo of Elizabeth Wenger
Elizabeth Wenger











For the research project, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Shalini Singh, and Elizabeth Wenger recommend an activity focusing on the process of choosing a strong research topic. The purpose of this activity is to help students learn brainstorming techniques for exploring topics of interest, particularly focusing on research projects. Students will also learn how to narrow their topics to a level of specificity that will help them improve their evidence, writing, and delivery of a research topic. 

The following is an example of how the activity can be structured in the ENGL 250 classroom:

    • The subject might be framed in the following way: While researching is an important skill, it might be hard to decide what topic you’d like to investigate for this assignment. Today we are going to talk about some ways you might discover some topics of interest to you that are also of suitable scope.

For detailed activities outline, access the How To Choose a Research Project Presentation here.

    • Brainstorming via Mind-Mapping: 
      • Students brainstorm topics by creating a mind-map based on a topic they choose (slide 3). The mind-map will allow students to generate ideas and begin to relatively organize those ideas. 
    • Narrowing the topic:
      • After completing the mind-map, students then select a topic from the diagram and write it on a piece of paper and pass it to a classmate. That classmate will then work to narrow the topic (slides 5-6). The passing will continue to help with the narrowing process.
    • Free-write: 
      • The activity is concluded with a reflective free-write. Have students reflect on the process of narrowing topics, how they would have narrowed their topics differently than peers, etc. (slide 7)
    • At the end of this lesson, students should have a reasonably specific statement of topic. They should have a grasp of the skills for how to brainstorm and narrow a topic for a project or paper. Instructors may discuss with students why topic selection matters (slide 8)
    • In upcoming lessons, students should refine their topic into a formal research question, identify appropriate search keywords (review of skills of LIB 160), conduct research to find credible sources, and start formulating their own argument.