Multigenre Research Projects: An Introduction

This is the first of several posts about a multigenre research project I have just completed in my language and literacy courses with preservice educators, grades P-8. (I teach one class focused on P-5, one class focused on 4-8).

For all of you librarians out there, even though the students I teach are future classroom teachers, please continue to read along. As I’ve gone through this project, I’ve seen numerous opportunities for collaboration between language arts teachers and librarians. (Ironically, there were times when I wished I had a librarian with me as another teacher. Much of my focus was on composition, and a librarian partner might have helped me do more with information literacy and ethics.) Multigenre research, as I see it, lies at the intersection of research and writing, and presents a great opportunity for librarians to collaborate with classroom teachers.

The first several of posts in this series will describe the project, some background, and the process we went through over the past weeks. Then, I hope to share some pieces of my students’ projects so you can get a sense of what multigenre research projects might look like.

I probably should have been writing about this all along, but to be honest I had no idea how these projects would turn out.  This is my first time teaching multigenre research. Now that the finished projects are rolling in, I am thrilled with what the students have accomplished, and happy that a number of them have given me permission to share their work here.

I hope you’ll tune in to see what they’ve done. I think many of the students surprised themselves with what they accomplished, and how “research” became something challenging, creative, and productive.  I feel, in many ways, that the students succeeded in spite of my fumblings as I learned to teach this process. Many of them went above and beyond what I set before them as tasks, and, as they have told me, quite a few wished they had more time to continue writing and research.  How great to hear students say that, especially since, at the beginning of the semester, the words “research project” filled the room with apprehension and dread.

So, to begin, my question is…why does “research” prompt that reaction?  Why does it fill many of us with dread? As an educator who believes that ongoing research and learning is essential to being an effective educator, how can we change the aversion that people have to research?  I’m starting to see some possible answers coming out of this project.  I welcome your thoughts.


10 Responses to “Multigenre Research Projects: An Introduction”

  1. 1 vrburton 02.26.2010 at 9:05 pm

    Good Luck. I look forward to stopping by and seeing their work.

  2. 3 Fran Bullington 02.27.2010 at 1:50 am

    Research gets its bad name from the confining assignments that many teachers have used for decades. It’s time to break the mold!

    We need to re-stimulate students’ natural curiosity in learning. I look forward to reading your posts about the successes of your multigenre projects.

  3. 4 bethfriese 02.27.2010 at 5:27 am

    Hi Fran. You’re right – I think the tired assignments play a huge role in this. As someone who finds research exhilarating and fun, it took me a while to realize how much my students resisted even the word “research.”
    Thanks for your thoughts. Some of their projects will be posted soon.

  4. 5 theunquietlibrary 02.27.2010 at 12:57 pm

    Beth, I am eager to read about your and your students’ experiences and see what I can draw on that as I prepare to begin a new round of multigenre research projects with my Media 21 sophomores. Thank you for creating this series of blog posts!

    Buffy Hamilton

    • 6 bethfriese 03.04.2010 at 3:48 am

      Thanks for reading, Buffy! I’ll be linking to your posts about multigenre work a few posts from now. You inspire me!


  5. 7 Michael J 02.28.2010 at 9:47 pm

    My $.02 about “research”.

    $.01 I’ve had some success as framing it as “solving a mystery”. It resonates with detective stories and one of the most popular TV shows in the States these days – CSI. Once so reframed it seems to be accessible.

    $.02 I think “research” is often used as a way to add value to a simple, natural process. In the sense that “research” is best left to people who have been certified as “researchers.” To my mind, it’s part of what Jane Jacobs describes as the credentialing of education in Dark Age Ahead.

    • 8 bethfriese 03.04.2010 at 3:51 am

      Hi Michael. Thanks for your comment. Interesting to frame research as a “mystery.” I have an interest in the role popular culture plays in libraries, so the connection to TV shows resonates with me. I bet it sparks student interest.

      I do think that the term “research” has acquired some baggage that might be better left behind. Thanks for the link. I’ll be reading this book soon, I bet.

      I hope you’ll drop by and leave your $.03 and $.04 sometime soon.


  1. 1 Multigenre Research: Choosing Topics « because to why Trackback on 03.04.2010 at 3:47 am
  2. 2 Multigenre Research Projects: Sources and Notetaking « because to why Trackback on 03.09.2010 at 4:44 am

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