Presenting the Research Project

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Case Study

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The time has come and Darren has decided to look at the full research assignment.

  • Write an eight to ten page research paper on alternative therapeutic modalities
  • Follow APA conventions for formatting and documentation
  • Do not use online resources
  • Use evidence based research to support your claim(s)
  • If you plagiarize you will fail the course
  • The paper is due on xxxx

While he was hoping for clarity and guidance he feels even more confused and frustrated.

How could the professor have crafted more helpful guidelines?


In this unit you will learn about how assignment handouts intended to help students can have unintended consequences and your will create your own project handouts.


  • Participants will identify how assignment handouts can create barriers or bridges to understanding.
  • Participants will create a project handout that develops bridges to understanding for students.

To complete this unit you will

  • Read the course text and an article
  • Watch a video
  • Connect what you learned to your own work
  • Draft project handouts

Why is it important?

Regardless of how much time you spend explaining an assignment and answering questions, when students get to work they are paying attention to what you have written down in the assignment handout. It's not uncommon for students to be puzzled by assignment requirements that they view as random and frustrating. Assignment handouts provide an opportunity to offer guidance and explanations for students and to foster engagement in the project.


Smooth-star.jpg Before you begin this section look at the Write questions and use those to guide your reading and viewing.  

Assignment handouts often serve to present guidelines and spell out expectations. This is fine, assuming that you are providing context and concepts in the classroom. Badke (2012) explains that students are "...trying to succeed at a task for which [they have] been given all the rules without the explanations" (p. 7). In order to create more meaningful guidelines you can add context to help your students understand your reasoning and meet your expectations.

Here are some suggestions for developing more helpful assignment handouts:

  • If you are stating requirement - explain why this is a requirement and provide guidance on how to fulfill that requirement.
  • If you are prohibiting certain behaviors - explain why this is not allowed and guidance on how to avoid that behavior

Handouts can also be supporting documents that spell out your expectations and provide criteria and/or models. Here are some examples:

  • If you require students to start with a guiding research question with supporting questions and/or a hypothesis with supporting questions create a handout that provides guidelines and examples of both good and bad questions.
  • If you require students to utilize resources based on the BEAM classification model transform the BEAM chart you created in the last model into a handout.
  • If you require students to demonstrate how they evaluate sources provide them with an explicit framework with understandable criteria

Watch Project Information Literacy Handout Study

Read Assigning Inquiry: How Handouts for Research Assignments Guide Today's College Students

Write answers to the following questions

  • What are the major barriers found in research assignment handouts?
  • How might you address these hurdles and create bridges to understanding
    • In your research project handouts?
    • In the structure of your research assignment(s)?
    • In your class based discussions and activities?


Revisit your research project plan and determine what handouts will be required. Create both assignment requirement handouts and supporting handouts.

Here are suggested elements for your final research project assignment handout:

  • Research paragraph you drafted in the first unit
  • Student learning objectives
  • Prompt
  • Requirements with explanations and guidance

Add your handouts to the discussion board for this unit. Review the work of your colleagues for ideas and offer constructive feedback on at least one other set of handouts.

Smooth-star.jpg Click on the discussion tab at the top of this page and once there click on edit - paste your work (you will lose formatting). 
Then, click the Page tab to come back to this unit page.


  • What information from this unit did you apply in the creation of your handouts? How did you apply the information?
  • What information from this unit sparked your interest but you chose not to apply it in the creation your handouts? Why did you make this decision?
  • How will you incorporate that information in future projects?


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