Step 3: Conclude and Organize

Students: Your goal in this step is to reflect on what you have learned, draw a conclusion, and then organize your information to support that conclusion.

Teachers: Your goal is to guide the students to develop a conclusion that can be supported with evidence.

 
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“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”
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~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Nobel Peace Prize winner)
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About this step

Now is the time for students to think about their learning and concentrate on interpretation of the data they have collected. Rather than a step, this may be an identified pause in the research process.

In the research process, we are often so focused on the collection of resources and the creation of the final product that the crucial step of analysis of the information gets lost. Students are more concerned about meeting the criteria for the number of sources and proper punctuation in their bibliographies than the strength of their argument. Consider the following:

For experienced researchers, their conclusion is often developed as they are gathering and reading sources. Novice researchers however, need to be taught to stop and think: "What did I learn?"

This is also the point where you as a teacher have to ask if the student actually read (viewed or listened to) their sources. Sometimes they haven't, and will need to go back and engage with the information.

Occasionally students find that their information did not answer their question and they may have to begin searching again. Perhaps they have found an answer; but, to a different question.

When a student gets it—when they make the connection between ideas and connect the dots of the facts--it's a miracle moment. It is worth spending time discussing with students how this process works for expert researchers in contributing new information to the established body of knowledge. Consider using the Einstein "Eureka!" moment to illustrate an example for them.

Student sees:

What did you learn from reading, listening, and/or viewing?

Try to answer this question in one sentence—write a thesis statement. Take a stand and prepare to persuade your audience that your interpretation is correct. Make the strongest thesis statement that you can defend with the evidence that you have.

Brainstorming and sketching your ideas can help make this process easier!

Sketch out your ideas

Grab a writing device (colored pencils are fun) and a blank piece of paper. Begin with your thesis. Write it somewhere on your blank paper. Brainstorm and note ideas that you have identified in your information sources. Use arrows. Draw circles. Look for connections and patterns. Identify lines of reasoning. (Software programs such as Inspiration can also be used for this step.

  • Can you see any common ideas?
  • Which are more important? Why?
  • Look for new ideas or new ways of connecting old ideas.

Reading, viewing and listening

No ideas? Alas, my dear researcher, you must return to your sources and read (view, listen). Or, return to your search and find useful sources and then read carefully, always considering what you know and what the author is saying.

How will you encourage creative and critical thinking as students consider their learning and draw conclusions?

Encourage your students to brainstorm and play with their ideas. Put away the serious tools and take out blank paper and colored pencils.

Student sees:

How do you organize your points to effectively persuade your audience?

Use all or some of the following steps to organize your information.

  • Sketch out your argument

    Grab a writing device (colored pencils are fun) and a blank piece of paper. Begin with your thesis. Write it somewhere on your blank paper. Brainstorm and note ideas that you have identified in your information sources. Use arrows, draw circles. Look for connections and patterns. Identify lines of reasoning. (Software programs such as Inspiration can also be used for this step.)

    • Can you see any common ideas?
    • Which are more important? Why?
    • Look for new ideas or new ways of connecting old ideas.
  • Create an outline

    Using the pattern you identified in your sketch, develop a sequential outline. Use the model below, one recommended by your teacher, or create one yourself.

    Outline Guidelines

  • Structure your argument

    Your goal is to persuade readers, listeners or viewers that your points and conclusions are true. Identify at least three reasons that show how the answer to your original research question is correct. Select the best facts and expert opinions you can give to support these reasons. Carefully consider the order in which you present your ideas.

    Ask yourself

    • Does my thesis control the direction of my outline?
    • Are all of my main points relevant to my thesis?
    • Do I have sufficient support for each of my points?
    • Is my outline logical?
    • Does my outline reflect a thorough, thoughtful argument? Have I sufficiently covered all the ground?

    Your answer to each of the above questions should be yes.

Congratulations! You have now completed your research. You have answered your question and created powerful arguments.

How will you instruct your students in how to organize information to support a conclusion?

Once the students have a rough sketch, it can be turned into an outline.

Related Standards show / hide

Schedule | Question | Gather | Conclude | Communicate: Essay - Electronic Slides - Video | Evaluate | Start Over | Printer iconPrinter-friendly view

The Research Project Calculator is a project funded jointly by MINITEX and MnLINK to develop Cool Tools for Minnesota secondary school students and their teachers. It is based on the original Assignment Calculator from the University of Minnesota Libraries.

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