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Prof. Boylan - English 101: Research Question

Develop a Research Question

The Research Question should be clear and focused enough to allow you to develop an argument. You shouldn't be able to answer your research question with a simple Yes or No, but discuss it from different angles. You may start out having one opinion of the topic but change your mind after conducting your research.

If you are not sure what to write about start with a broad topic and narrow it down by thinking of some of the issues associated with it. Then turn your broad topic and issue into a research question.

e.g. Education:

Levels of education: Pre-K, Kindergarten, K-6, K-12, higher education, etc.

Narrow by Population (PEOPLE): teachers, administrators, students, boys/girls; people with disabilities; children in private vs. public school; speakers of other languages/native speakers . . . and so on.

Narrow by Issue: IT/Tech (video games and learning); Social Issues (geographic inequality); Psychology (trauma and its effects on learning); Health and Nutrition (exercise benefits for learning)

Level of Education + Population + Issue = Research Question

Potential research questions:

Can video games be effective tools for learning for boys and girls in grades K-6? 

Should community colleges in the United States offer dual languages courses for non-native speakers?

What techniques can teachers adopt to address life and family trauma among young adults in the high school classroom?

Should pre-K be a formalized part of the public education curriculum? 

Go to the SEARCH STRATEGY tab to see how to break your topic down into keywords to create the most effective searches.

Relevant aspects of a topic - Narrowing Scope

Remember that for your assignment you want to learn about this topic but you have limits.

  • There is a due date that limits the time you can spend gathering, understanding, and absorbing information about the topic.
  • There are space considerations including how many pages you have in which to express yourself, your ideas and the results of your research.
  • Other assignment requirements may include how many and what types of sources you must use.

For all these reasons, it is important to identify the relevant aspects of the larger topic that most interest you, that you will emphasize in your work.

Aspects to Consider

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