Teacher Feature: Erin Banas’ Truman Research

banasQuestion #1:  Please describe your Truman project.

Students are required to take a position in the prompt, “Was President Harry S. Truman justified in using the atomic bomb to end WWII against Japan?”  A three-point thesis statement is required, which lends itself to a five paragraph essay.  Students are also required to correctly cite their sources parenthetically within the body of their paper, as well as compose an annotated bibliography.  The annotated bibliography requires that students not only summarize their sources, but also they must connect the resources to how it enhanced their paper’s arguments and the quality/authority of the source.

Question #2:  Why do you prefer this prompt over others?

In the several years of utilizing this prompt, I feel that is sparks the interest of both male and female students.  Additionally, this prompt allows students to examine the topic from several different discipline areas (political, military, scientific, etc.).

Question #3:  You have used Google Sites with many resources preselected, do you feel as if you have completely eliminated the need for students to locate and access sources and why do you prefer this method?

Not at all.  By providing students with some preselected resources, I believe it makes the students comfortable at first with getting their feet wet with scholarly resources.  It also helps to keep the students from becoming frustrated and throwing in the towel on the project.  Students are also provided links to the research databases in which they can locate their own resources.  That is ultimately my main goal in making the students independent in conducting research using scholarly resources.

Question #4:  What are the research skills that you hope to focus upon and strengthen during this assignment?

Finding scholarly resources to base their evidentiary support.  Today, technology is a blessing regarding academic pursuits in that it provides students with a plethora of information.  However, not all information on the internet is accurate.  Although it may take a bit of extra time to learn how to navigate library and academic databases, students often find that once they use such resources research becomes a lot easier.

Question #5:  With each student being given the same prompt, do you feel that students ever have trouble offering unique viewpoints?

Not really.  Again this prompt allows students to examine the topic from several different disciplines.  

Question #6:  What is your favorite part of this project?

Witnessing their confidence in knowing they can complete such a rigorous research paper.  On the day I first assign this project I always hear groans from the students and comments such as, “I can’t do this so just fail me now.”  The way in which the research paper is scaffold over the time period of a month, researching and writing the paper is not so overwhelming for the students.  I hope they carry this confidence with them senior year when they complete their graduation project research paper and throughout their freshman year in college.

Question #7:  What is your students’ favorite part of this project?

Students like the research portion to determine which argument is more compelling to them.  Students also appreciate the level of preparedness that this unit gives them to succeed in completing larger research papers.

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