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Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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A Rubric for Research

Teaching elementary students, as young as first grade, to research is no easy task. It requires enormous patience, persistence, and a belief in your students.

Training children to be young researchers provides them with all kinds of skills, which will help them succeed in college and the workplace.
Research skills have found their own place in the national Common Core English Language Arts standards, which requires students to conduct short and sustained research projects.

Nevertheless, knowing something is important to teach doesnt make the job any easier.

Yet, there are tools to make the task less daunting. In previous blogs, I have shared electronic resources such as the Kentucky Virtual Library ResearchPortal(http://www.kyvl.org/kids/homebase.htm), which provides children with an interactive roadmap for research. However, the one tool I have not come across is a rubric or checklist that could be used when conferencing with students to determine their knowledge and ability with the process. I wanted a tool similar to one used by reading teachers during conferencing--so I created one. Its called the Research Workshop Conference Form (very creative name, right?), and it measures students abilities through each step of the process through a scoring system. I pasteda copy below; for the actual form, e-mail me at [email protected]. Obviously, you will have to instruct your students in the research process before using this rubric to measure their performance.

When using the form, students receive one to three points for each category (in bold), except for the Information Validity / Data Collection category, where they can get up to six points. In total, students can score up to 18 points on the form.

Let me break down the categories:

Topic Selection
Using this tool, teachers can determine if a child knows how to select an appropriate topic of research and whether that topic will be the right challenge, much the same way we train children to choose a just right book. It gets them to reflect on why a certain topic might interest them.

The rubric also scores the child in his or her ability plan out the research by formulating effective questions, establishing a strategy to locate information, and knowing the end result. Teachers can evaluate whether students are prepared to face certain challenges, such as not finding enough information on a topic.

The tool also helps yougauge whether students know how to find multiple resources, including text and electronic, to find information. Teachers can use it to check if students rely only on web sites or if they expand their searches to include people in the form of experts.

The form requires students to answer questions about strategies they use to check the validity of web sites and facts and how to handle conflicting information. It also assesses whether they know how to paraphrase and properly cite sources and avoid plagiarism.

Sharing Results
Finally, students are assessed in their ability to select an effective method for sharing their findings, one that utilizes their learning strengths.
The form concludes with a place for teachers to help students set goals for improvement. While this rubric is definitely a work in progress, I wanted to share it as a tool that I believe will help you measure your students progress and abilities in this all-important area. Please let me know how it works.
Thank you,

Research Workshop Conference Form
Student: Date:
Research Topic:
Topic Selection
Choose the most significant questionsNeeds Improvement 1 Progressing 2 Good -3
____ Is this topic too easy, just right, or too challenging for you?
____ Why did you choose this topic?
____ What do you already know about this topic?

Planning NI 1 P 2 G -3
____Have you generated at least 10 questions regarding your topic?
____Explain your main strategy for finding information.
____What challenges might you face in trying to find this information?
____How will you share your findings?
____How will you know you have been successful with this project?

Resources: NI 1 P 2 G -3
___What websites will you use to find information?
___What people will you interview or speak to regarding your topic?
___What texts will you use to locate information?

Information Validity/Data Collection strategies:
Choose a minimum of two (2) significant questions to ask:N1- 1 P-2 G-3
___ Reliable Sources:
What did you do to ensure that you are using reliable sources?
Student Response:
___ Fact Checking
What strategies did you do to make sure your facts were accurate?
Student Response:
___ Paraphrasing
Did you write the notes in your own words? Did you place quotation marks around information that was taken verbatim from the text or source?
Student Response:
___ Organization
What strategies did you use to keep your notes organized and safe?
Student Response:

Did you create a list of websites, books and other sources used to gather information? Did you cite it correctly?

Product Creation NI 1 P 2 G -3
What product will you create to share what you have learned?
Why did you choose this product? Do you think creating this product will utilize your learning strengths?
Who will you share this product with (who is your audience)?
Total Points: ________/ ___18____
Conference Reflection/Research Goal:

Student will work on the following goals: Notes:
___ Change/refine topic ___Revise Product/Audience
___ Improved planning (i.e. develop questions, change strategy for finding data)
___ Improved/ expanded resources ___ Improved note-taking/data collection