Research Skills: Critical Processes for Young Gifted Children
Gifted students often do not have a need for research skills at young ages because they generally know the answers to any question they might be asked. As gaining and retaining knowledge is easy for gifted children, it is important for educators and parents to help them learn valuable research skills at a young age, so that they will be competent researchers when they find themselves in situations that require more skills than just recall of information. At this point in the school year, gifted and talented students may also be inclined to do independent studies based on a deep interest in peripheral topics that were introduced in conjunction with the core curriculum or they might want to pursue something entirely new and different.
To initiate a research study with neophytes, have students pick a topic they know nothing about, or pick a topic they know something about in general but about which they now want to know something very specific. The topic should be contained and manageable. If students have no ideas for topics, have them open a dictionary, find a word that is a noun that they don’t know and research more about it.
In general students should be able to go through the following steps. There are questions for discussion included, or students can work on their own and you can use their questions to note what they need to focus on next time.
Step 1: Plan your research project
- Define your subject
- Brainstorm about your topics
- What do you already know?
- Group similar ideas
- Identify key words and phrases
- Make an Internet quest strategy
- Gather your tools
Step 2: Search for information
- Virtual libraries
- Library catalogs
- Reference books: tables of content and indices
- Magazines, journals, and newspaper articles
- Internet searches
- What if you can’t find anything?
Step 3: Take Notes
- The KWL method
- Fact finder method
- Data sheets
- Clustering method (also called mapping or webbing)
- Venn diagram method
- Note cards
- Prints and photocopies
- Bibliography page
Step 4: Use the information
- Scan the page first
- Is the information true or bogus?
- Put it in your own words
- Organize the information
- Compare and contrast
- Put the information in order
- Add your own conclusions
Step 5: Report
- Share what you’ve learned in an interesting way
Step 6: Evaluate
- Ask yourself, “How did I do?”
- Then plan for how to improve your next research process.
Another good source for the basic Steps in the Research Process is http://www.crlsresearchguide.org/.
If students choose to do research, have them focus on steps that were unfamiliar or difficult initially. We want them to get away from just copying something off the Internet and learn to systematically dig deeper than this ready source of information. Once they get the hang of it, research, with the joy of learning new things, becomes fun as well as challenging.