H. Topic Overview

1. Problem:

Even after selecting tentative research paper topics, students may not know enough about the topic to research and write an informed paper.

See Expected Learning Outcomes and Methods for help with this problem.

2. Expected Learning Outcomes:

After reading an encyclopedia overview article related to their tentative research topics, all students will list correctly key issues, arguments, historical events, individuals and/or relevant publications.

3. Methods:

Ask students to compare key arguments, issues, historical events, individuals or publications cited in a Wikipedia article related to their research paper topics, and in a general encyclopedia or a special subject-focused encyclopedia.

Encyclopedia Evaluation Exercise:

  • Have students pair up.
  • Ask partners to pick one print and one online encyclopedia and a similar topic within each one
  • Ask students to take 5 minutes to answer questions in the Encyclopedia Evaluation Exercise, or assign as homework. (See Exercises and Handouts.)
  • Discuss results or provide written feedback.
  • Distribute copies of Encyclopedia Evaluation Checklist. (See Exercises and Handouts.)

TIP! Remind students that they can use campus-licensed online encyclopedias FOR FREE while off campus by setting up their web browsers for the campus server or by downloading VPN software.

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library (licensed)
    Search this database to find out which subject-specialized encyclopedias have articles on the topics you search. (Note: Does not include the articles themselves.)
4. Assessment:
Ask partners to exchange papers and check each others' answers.