Productive Researching

Using a structured approach to getting the most out of finding, evaluating, and using information in the researching process.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Implementing a clear and effective four-phase process for productive researching (online and off) that includes defining what you're looking for, choosing the right research tools and strategies, evaluating reliable sources, and effectively and appropriately using the information found.

Method Components

As students explore a new topic, the educator leads them through the four phases of productive researching (adapted from the American Library Association's Information Literacy Competency Standards). This process can be conducted individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction. These strategies can be deployed as a stand-alone activity or as a part of a lesson.

Phases of productive researching

  • Determine: Decide what information is needed. Possible methods include:
    • Share and capture what each team member already knows about the question.
    • List related research questions previously researched and which sources were helpful.
    • Discuss any related questions that it might also be helpful to research.
    • Identify the essential Need To Knows to answer the research question and where these answers might be found.
    • Brainstorm nondigital sources that might be helpful (see the Idea Generating micro-credential).
  • Choose: Use appropriate tools and strategies to access the needed information efficiently. Possible methods include:
    • Determine whether the main research question can be divided into smaller questions that can be tackled by different team members and then shared with the team.
    • Distribute the essential Need To Knows research tasks among the team members.
    • Discuss the best search strategies and tools to use in researching answers to the question (see the Choosing Tech Tools micro-credential).
  • Evaluate: Analyze the information gathered and its sources. Possible methods include:
    • Decide on the criteria to use for evaluating the reliability of the information found.
    • Rank the reliability of the information gathered from all sources on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is completely unreliable and 10 is totally reliable; discuss the rankings (see the Evaluating Online Info micro-credential).
  • Use: Engage with the information gathered effectively and appropriately (see related micro-credentials Collaborative Problem Solving and Evaluating Online Info). Possible methods include:
    • Decide whether more research needs to be done to answer the research question effectively and repeat any of the phases as needed until the group is confident in the answer(s).
    • If there is more than one good answer to the research question, list the positives and negatives of each of the findings.
    • Present the research findings to others and use the feedback to improve the final presentation of results (see the Kind Critiquing micro-credential).

Suggested preparation

  • Introduce and discuss the four-stage research process that will be used in this activity.
  • Have students share their best strategies for researching information online and off; have them also share their least effective research experiences.
  • Have students choose a question to research and follow the researching process phases to produce a summary of the findings from the research.

Suggested review

  • To evaluate the research strategies, students share what they liked best about the researching process and what they think could be done differently next time.
  • Students present the results of the research to the other teams and celebrate all the research completed.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

With an overwhelming abundance of choices in search tools, methods, and online resources, the quality and reliability of the information found and the appropriate use of the information are now key challenges; following an effective and proven research process and continuously monitoring the value and reliability of the research results improves the quality of the research and drives deeper learning.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in productive researching? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the productive researching activities and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, or other media) that demonstrate progress toward the productive researching competency, including such items as Need To Knows lists, information reliability ranking charts, evidence of presentations of results, and other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit student-created reflections on their experience of the productive researching activities. Use the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the productive researching activities help you and your team find more reliable information and better answers to the research question?
  • How did the research strategies you use change your view of how best to research a question and use the search tools and resources more effectively and efficiently?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the productive researching activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily teaching practice in the future?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Productive Researching
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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