High School Research Projects World History

Teaching world history provides the exciting opportunity to teach through allowing students to do research.  Because the world history subject is so broad there are several ways to incorporate research and hundreds if not thousands of subjects to research.  For the sake of brevity I will outline the two most basic ways to have a class do research to learn about specific topics.  No matter which route you choose make sure that the overall goal is to get each student to learn something new and draw conclusions different than the norm. 

The first way to go about giving students research projects is to break the class into groups and either assign or let each group pick their research topic.  Then the group will give more specific topics to each other and research the effects those topics had on the larger picture.  This is a good way to allow the more gifted students to help the lower capacity students in their research and writing skills.  But be careful as sometimes the group work is not distributed easily or the quieter students’ opinions will be overtaken by the more boisterous.  Make sure the group writes thoroughly about each others’ findings and incorporates those findings into the final whole report.  For example if the group was assigned to research WW1 the individual who was assigned to research the causes should rely heavily on the findings of the individual who was assigned to research Mutual Defensive Pacts between nations.

The second and more traditional way to give research assignments is to simply let each student research a subject of their choosing.  This allows every student to form their own opinions and conclusions in their research without being silenced by other students.  Unfortunately these reports are also less detailed and suffer from the fact that they are so common in high schools today that students have become efficient at citing the same sources and writing about the same facts over and over again.  If you choose this route be sure that the final project has lots of the student’s own voice in it.  Also let the students know that it is alright, even preferable to disagree with the common historical consensus.  I can not understand for the life of me why we say its normal and fun for high-schoolers to not agree with people older than them, and yet expect them to draw the same conclusions in research papers as all the old historians before them.  Tell them to think of something new no matter how far-fetched it is.