Over the summer I took a course through PBS Teacherline called “Promoting Digital Media Literacy.” The final project was presented as a problem to solve: how can students effectively locate good resources online, analyze, and use them. For my solution to the problem, I developed the Q-PASS model. Through the course we looked at various research models such as “The Big 6,” “Pathways to Knowledge,” and “SPIRRE.” By studying models we could see what we liked about certain models while thinking of the needs of our students, so we could synthesize that information into something new. Because I work with students with middle and high school students with emotional and behavioral disabilities at an alternative school, I wanted to develop a research process that would be easy for them to remember and that would help them develop some important critical thinking skills. I also wanted to develop something that I felt would be a useful process for them to go through when answering life’s tough questions when they are done with school: “Which job should I take,” or “Both towns are close to where I work. Which town should I live in?” As a result, the model I developed has a way to define a good research question as the first part of the process. Also, my students need help with social interactions. The goal at our school is to get the students transitioned back into a mainstream setting, but they need help with social skills. In my model, there is a process for learning to collaborate with others, which is an important social skill.
The Q-PASS model involves 5 steps: Question, Plan, Assemble, Survey, and Showcase.
1. Question. First, students develop a good research question. It doesn’t show me what my students have learned if they are just giving me factual information about a topic. Copying and pasting facts from their research is not good learning. That’s what my students want to do, but it doesn’t show me what they’ve learned. So developing a good research question is essential. If a teacher has already developed a good research question, then this part of the process is not necessary, but many teachers want their students to develop their own questions. In order to help my students come up with a good question, they will first need to brainstorm what they know about the topic. Then they use the chart I created in order to develop questions. Once they become proficient at developing questions, then they will no longer need to use the chart.
2. Plan. The next step is for students to plan their research. What search terms will they use? How will their search terms be refined? What types of information will they need in order to answer their research question? When my students begin a research project, they usually have a lot of difficulty starting because they don’t know what to do. I developed this step to help them.
3. Assemble. Next, students will assemble their information. That means that they find it, take notes, collect images, organize it, and analyze it. I have included a tool students can use to evaluate a website in order to determine if it meets their needs before they use it for their research. This step will require some critical thinking in order to organize the information and analyze whether or not it will be useful. When students have all the information that they think they will need, they move on to the next step.
4. Survey. Students will work with a partner to help each other determine if they have enough information and if their information aptly answers their research question. This is a social skills training opportunity for my students, so in my model, I include a lesson plan for one way to go about teaching this step to students.
5. Showcase. The last step is to show off your project. The students I work with often don’t finish projects or they don’t want people to see them, even their parents. By making this step the final part of the research, it helps students see that showing your work is part of good learning.
I am excited to try out this research model. I would love to hear feedback from other people who try this in their classrooms too.