Student research projects: Strong, but time-saving support.

I am working on an approach that I hope will significantly support and enhance the way Educators and Student Researchers work together, as students start, work on and complete significant research projects such as as "IB Extended Essays" for the International Baccalaureate degree.

The problem this attempts to solve is the difficulty of timely and detailed interaction between the teacher and student as the student begins a research project, gets it off the ground, delves into significant information gathering, attempts to organize information, synthesizes perspectives and results, and ends up with most of what is needed to produce a good final product. Typically, just what each student in a class or group is doing, day-by-week-by-month is hard for teachers to track. Turning in draft work periodically, with the attendant lag in teacher response, produces big peaks in teacher workload, and leaves big gaps in the teachers understanding of each students progress and the problems they are facing. I hope it will be possible for teachers to become very active mentors to the research process, while saving them a great deal of time and allowing them to immediately see what each student has been doing.

Here's The Idea:

* Each student starts with their own pre-defined wiki (similar to this one: ) with pre-initialized pages which define a structure (scaffold?) with directions, and navigation that shows the structure. Student's work is organized by the initial structure of the wiki. Their work and content is entered into it.

* Students will initially go through the sections shown on the left menu, as assigned. Later they will go back and enhance and rewrite sections.

* Each page explains the activity students are expected to do as that part of their Research Process.

* Each page shows the areas where students will enter their writing and results of inquiry, with the characters >>

What's really different:

* Teachers can quickly see recent student work and edits using "Recent Changes" !
* Teachers can also enter comments and suggestions directly into the student's wiki pages.
* Students can find teachers comments immediately with "Recent Changes".
* Teachers and Students can get emails immediately when updates are done, 'homework is checked' etc.

So: This a non-traditional use of a Wiki: NOT for creating a collaboratively-developed web-published document, but rather as a private working document which is a collaboration between the student researcher and their mentor/teacher/assessor. The researcher's work product here then becomes the basis of a final work, which might take many different forms.. a paper, a presentation, a web-publication, or, if appropriate, even a Wiki!

What do you think?? Please take a look at :

Please comment to, or here, or on the "Discussion Tab" of the Wiki.

Tags: IB, assessment, mentor, research, scaffolding, template, wiki

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What you are doing is impressive! I have put a link to your wikispaces address on the webpage I am building with resources for student research at I started the page a few weeks ago, and as you can see, I've collected a lot of resources already. If you know of anything else I can add to this page, let me know.

This is a wonderful idea and it should work with any research model. I would love to see it used with Big6. And, it does away with the bane of my existence… the dreaded note cards!!!! I think this wiki would benefit students so much more than using note cards! Thanks for sharing.
I agree with you on the Big6 model. So you have a wiki skeleton developed for research using the Big6? If so, I would appreciate you sharing it. Also, how does this do away with the notecards? Do you mean, just because it will be digitally done now? Have you used power point slides to take notes before? Thanks for anything you can provide.
Sue Reichard
Troy Middle School Librarian
Troy, Pa. 16947
Sue and Julie,
I would have each student have their own page on a wiki skeleton. I have not finished creating such a Big6 skeleton because I am still waiting for the librarians in my district to decide if we are going to adopt Big6 as our research model. Many teachers use many different models right now. I have had older students use PowerPoint slides for note taking and that went a lot better than paper note cards but I have not used this method with younger students yet. I agree with both of you, this does streamline the process.
I think this is a great idea. My only thought as an instructor would be that if each student has their own Wiki, would you have to login to each one to comment, etc.? I have seen the use of Google Apps for smaller scale projects similar to this one. When students share their work, the teacher can see all their work in one place. Regardless of the tool, the web 2.0 options really provide opportunities to streamline this process.



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