In-Class Topic Brainstorming: In Action

Each time I assign a research paper, I require that topics be submitted for my approval early in the semester. ¬†Most students submit a topic, but they are often very broad and poorly developed (i.e., I have an idea, but I have no idea what my research question might be). I read about in-class topic brainstorming at The Society Pages over the summer and decided to try it out this fall. I think it worked well. The topics students turned in were much more developed. Students also benefited in that I walked around the room and sat down with some of the groups to help them brainstorm, which they did not get from me under my previous method (i.e., turn it in and I’ll approve it or not). I had a better idea of what kind of topics students were interested in before I sat down to review their topics and could help guide them at an earlier stage. In-class topic brainstorming is definitely staying in rotation as a regular feature of any course with a research paper.¬†