[Almost there! ] This series of posts presents ten simple suggestions to help you change your units or parts of your units to develop students’ research skills and competencies that you can adapt to suit your particular context.

10 easy ways

  1. Change an assessment to an inquiry
  2. Change a laboratory class to guided discovery
  3. Engage students in gathering or working with data
  4. Turn your unit of study into a conference
  5. Arrange for students to interview researchers
  6. Invite students and staff to research speed-dating
  7. Get students to write an abstract
  8. Change essays into academic articles
  9. Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum
  10. Create a competition

9.   Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum

The key to good research is having good questions or good hypotheses. In some subjects finding good questions or hypotheses is a huge challenge. It is a also something many students struggle with – particularly when they have to find their own essay title, or when, as a doctoral student they are faced with the challenge of narrowing down their PhD topic. Being able to break a topic down into its component parts requires practice.

In class time it’s a good idea to begin with a discussion about what constitutes a good question. An example of how a question can be broken down into its component parts is very useful in this context because often the questions students ask are much too general. If students have chosen an essay topic, for example, they could be asked to write down, say, five titles for essays they could write on that topic. This serves to show the need for breaking down questions, hypotheses, problems etc. into their component parts.


“In class time, Education students are invited to generate as many questions about how to improve the learning of their students as they can think of. They put each of the questions on a post-it note and put them on the wall. Then when all the questions have been exhausted, the class silently groups the questions according to type. Duplicate questions may be removed at this point. Further questions may be added. Headings may be added then or later depending on the students. This is used as a basis for forming groups of students interested to research similar areas.” (University Sydney)

Posted by Angela Brew

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