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ENGL 100 - Achievement Gap in Education: Home

Use this guide to complete the research assignment focusing on achievement gaps in education

Navigating the Problem Solution Essay

Before you launch your research, take some time to examine the essay prompt. Being familiar with your instructor's guidelines is key to your success on any research project. Review prompt often as you research and write your essay to make sure you are on track. 

Step 1: Select A Meaningful Topic

Think about an aspect of the Achievement Gap problem and select an aspect of it that genuinely interests you and/or is relevant to your life. Do a quick self inventory:

  • What makes you tick? What defines you?
  • What problems affect you or someone close to you?
  • What do you think are the biggest problems with regard to college completion, student success, or educational success?

You'll want to consider the following issues before you select your topic:

  • Will it sustain my interest?
  • Does it fit the parameters of my assignment?
  • Is credible information on this topic readily available?

Step 2: Do background reading on your target population

Begin to identify the problems related to your topic. Which of these problems would  you like to address? Which ones can be addressed?

Preliminary (or Background) reading is a great help in developing your main points (problem, causes, effects, solutions), as well as identifying useful search terms for future database searching. The point is not to start gathering your actual sources -- though you may very well find some along the way -- but to get comfortable with your topic by consulting engaging, easy to understand sources.

use preliminary reading to evaluate and refine topics

Use search terms like those below to find overview articles on your chosen student population in the Gale eBooks database:

  • Veterans
  • Adult students
  • Latino students
  • Foster youth
  • Inmates
  • Student athletes
  • Autism spectrum disorders
Where to Find Background Reading

Step 3: Create Some Questions to Guide Research

Create some basic questions to guide your inquiry and get you to start thinking about the flow of your paper.

Well written research papers have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. You can create research questions that can help you craft all these sections of your paper. Your questions can then help with the flow of your paper and guide you to find information for each part of your paper.

Important Activity: Evaluate ALL Sources Before Use

Finding information today is easy; it's all around you. Making sure the information you find is reliable can be a challenge.

When you use Google or any social media to get your information how do you know it can be trusted? How do you know it's not biased? How do you know it's not misinformation or disinformation?

You can feel pretty confident that books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's databases are reliable because someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made before publishing them. You still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and suitable for your project but you can feel confident that it is a trustworthy source.

Make sure each and every source you plan on using in your paper or research assignment passes the CRAAP test.

CRAAP Test criteria

Step 4: Do further research on your narrower topic

Now that you've completed your background reading and created your research questions, you are ready to use more specific terms to find additional information on your narrowed topic in our larger databases:

  • foster youth college
  • veterans college
  • first generation college students
  • education "language learners"

Use these selected larger databases to search for information to answer your research questions.

Library guides on statistics and local information

Use these research guides to find statistics on the Web and links to local organizations:

Using the Web effectively

The Web is a great place to find statistics, news, and very current information.

When searching for reliable statistics, enter a search term, click Settings, then Advanced Search, then limit the domain to .gov

Remember to carefully evaluate every source you find on the Web.

Recommended Websites

Search Google

Google Web Search

Step 5: Cite Your Sources

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