Digital Skills: Developing Online Assessment Skills in Everyday Classroom Activities Western Reserve Public Media

Developing a Research Question
This lesson assumes that students understand the basic concept of research and how to locate information. The purpose is to show students how identify possible research topics and narrow them into research questions that will guide a research project.

I can:
  • Narrow a topic into a research question
  • Identify sub-topics and keywords
  • Complete simple background research
  • Use a database
  • Create questions to focus research
Tech Skills:
  • Use databases

  • Search engines

  • Word processing

  • Keyboarding

Materials and Resources:

Developing a Research Question (video)

How to Develop a Good Research Topic (video)

Laurier Library - Developing a Research Question - Document

Research Question Videos - Guided Notes (document)

Keyword Searching (presentation)

Narrowing Your Choices (document)

Three Levels of Questioning

“Do You Deserve Online Privacy”

Grade Level:
  • 7th-12th Grades

Subject Area:
  • ELA (can be used for research in any subject area)

Activity 1

Students will learn the difference between a topic and research question and will learn the qualities of good research questions. Distribute the guided notes Google doc to students (students are to make a copy). Students are to access the Research Question Videos document that includes links to two videos and questions to be answered as they watch the videos. Once students have watched the videos, they should understand the concept of research question as well as how it differs from a basic topic. They will respond to the questions in the guided notes gDoc and submit document with the correct answers.

Students will use the 5 step process from the Laurier Library Document to come up with a research proposal.


Activity 2

Students will compile of list of possible topics for their research. Students will narrow that list to no more than 5 topics that are of greatest interest to them. After compiling that list students will view the Keyword Searching presentation. Students will use INFOhio’s iSearch to complete the keyword searching activity.

Following the activity, students will have a list of 5 possible topic areas with a list of possible keywords to use in narrowing the topics down.


Activity 3

Students will use the Narrowing Your Choices document to generate questions related to the chosen topics to assist in narrowing the topics into research questions.


Activity 4

Students will complete the “Do You Deserve Online Privacy” activity to model how to develop questions from research.

Students read the article “Do You Deserve Online Privacy” and then complete the 3 Levels of Questions worksheet.

After completing these activities, students will narrow their choices down to one topic with multiple research questions and then to a single research question that will be the basis of their project.

W.11-12.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

W.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W.11-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
Supplementary Resources:


Question Game - Research ? or Topic (website)

Turning Topics Into Research Questions (document)

Developing Your Questions (document)


Follow Us on Facebook Facebook | Twitter Twitter | YouTube YouTube | E-Newsletters E-Newsletters | | Digital Skills Credits | Digital Skills Home | Be More PBS

Western Reserve Public Media® • P.O. Box 5191; 1750 Campus Center Drive; Kent, OH 44240-5191 • 330-677-4549 or 1-800-554-4549

Copyright©Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.