Why Research Assignments

Let's look more closely at the reasons why research papers—or term papers, or formal reports—are a major staple in the academic diet. At their best, such assignments ask you to think seriously about what interests you, to formulate questions you care about, to begin poking around in places (both familiar and arcane) for answers or solutions, to master some method for taking and organizing notes, to integrate fragments of knowledge into a meaningful conceptual framework, and to compose the whole business into a coherent report that answers the questions you originally posed—which task, itself, brings to bear all of your accumulated rhetorical skills.

Any assignment that asks you to perform the variety of activities outlined here might justly be considered central to what learning is all about. As you perform these activities for the first time, you may find them difficult. However, as you become better at them—better at investigating, conceptualizing, criticizing, and writing—research will get easier and you'll have a good time. In short, good, open-ended research assignments taken seriously make you a more agile, careful, and tough thinker, as well as give you practice communicating that agility, care, and toughness to others.

0 0

Post a comment