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-- the Labyrinth February 1993 --

Research Mentor

Rod Freeman, EMCCC
English 102, the continuation of English writing skills, is a class with a high attrition rate district-wide. In addition to developing the writing skills underway from English 101 it serves to introduce the student to research - in fact, it may be the only "research" class students will take to prepare them for research-oriented upper-division classes. Added to this, the information explosion of the last decade brings myriad information databases to the fingertips of the researcher- writer. Traditional classroom methods of research paradigms are not ideally structured to allow the learner to easily access diverse archives of electronic data. Given high attrition rates and the overwhelming mass and interconnectivity of information, a possible answer arises. A mentor for the student. From this need the Research Mentor is developed - an organizational template/menu to mentor the student through the research-composition process.

Rather than have a program matched to one text or to one philosophy of research, I wished to create an adaptive program which would address as many diverse learning styles as possible. The aim of this package was an organizational template to be utilized outside the classroom to focus student effort - teaching research as a recursive process. Students refer to the Electronic Forum for their assignments. Through modules the students learn to focus their topic, compile a preliminary annotated bibliography, avoid plagiarism, take effective and useful notes; paraphrase, summarize, and quote material; develop effective thesis statements; plan composition through outlines; distinguish between fact and opinion; write the rough draft; document the research paper; and successfully answer essay questions. In addition to these competencies, students become acquainted not only to the traditional paper resources, but also to the electronic dimensions of research. Students will use Electronic Forum and Internet to communicate with local, national, and international students and forums, electronic atlases for demographic and geographic information, electronic encyclopedia and dictionaries, multimedia resources, electronic databases and on-line catalogs and other resources. The philosophy of each module is to introduce the research resource, show how it integrates with other resources, provide practice in utilizing the resource, and provide the student with actual practice, relevant to the individual learner, in utilizing the resource to meet the course competencies.

The intent, therefore, is not to be all things to all instructors and students - an impossible task. Rather, the hope is to provide a tutorial, a framework, a mentor, which will empower the student to complete a research project. The program implements Classroom Research methods providing me with immediate and anonymous feedback from students. In design and content, the software is relevant to the individual learner. It is as personalized as I, the instructor, wish it to be. I may tailor assignments week-by-week to allow each student to explore as restricted or as open an assignment as I wish to communicate to them. Ultimately, I hope the Research Mentor to be a package which will guide students through the confounding labyrinth of information - to enable them to function with confidence in any of the diverse research environments they may find themselves in.

Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction (MCLI)
The Internet Connection at MCLI is Alan Levine --}
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