By Mark Winegar on Sat, 12/08/2012
"Every time you do a project, you learn something new." - Justin Timberlake
So you want to engage your team(s) in a project involving higher order thinking. What project(s) will they be working on?
You can assign projects or let your team(s) select their own. I find participants are more highly motivated when they have a choice but I suggest providing a list of projects from which they may choose. This strategy worked well for me when distributing work assignments to engineers.
There are lots of potential projects to chose from ranging from community service to current issues. Just look about!
I discovered a service project in action as I sat writing a first draft at Caribou Coffee. Mrs. Noreen's second grade class (Sioux City, Iowa) created these charming paper stockings for the mantle. The designs were their own and each contained a child's Christmas wish list inside. The school partners with the barista to provide charming seasonal settings for patrons. This is a win-win scenario with the children enjoying the pride of exhibition and Caribou selling more lattes.
Academic controversy works well with more mature students. The idea is to work on controversial issues and events such as Obamacare, Right-to-Work legislation, tax reform, or whatever is current in the news. Listening to PBS on your commute is a source for topics.
I often use this strategy in teaching college freshmen how to write research papers. Students are asked to research an issue or event and report all sides of the issue as well as their own perspective. It is essential to assess the work and not the student's perspective.
It is important for students to feel safe in expressing themselves so I always share the grading rubric detailing precisely how the work will be scored based soley on adherence to the writing style guide.
My students use a web browser and a search engine as their fact finding tools. I suggest Safari and Google respectively.
The World Wide Web is a great source of information but caution must be used to find quality information. Fortunately it is getting easier as the vast majority of credible media sources are now on the web. Simply use the same guidelines you would normally use in assigning any literature review.
You can find guidance at OWL (The Purdue Online Writing Lab). This is a great source of guidance on performing undergraduate research and it documents each of the major writing style guides.
Once you have a rubric and list of topics you are ready to engage your team(s) in higher order thinking!
Next time we'll look at what to do with the "facts" we discover.