Doing Research: Addressing Topics That Matter

Winter 2014 and Spring 2014 quarters

Taught by

composition, education, literature
mathematics, history of science

The skills to design and conduct effective research—defined as systematic inquiry-- are essential components of a liberal arts education and professional work. In this program, students will develop strong writing, critical reading, and statistical reasoning skills applicable to a variety of fields. The program is organized around two core assumptions: first, that research is more about thinking than doing, and second, that good research uses appropriate methods to support claims and communicate results effectively. 

In winter quarter, we will use the broad topic of climate change—understanding it, preparing for it, and adapting to it—as a shared focus for developing research skills. Students will focus on aspects of climate change that connect with their previous and future studies, or their current interests. Students will build skills through active-learning workshops, hands-on data collection and analysis, and critical analysis of online and print media reports. We will discuss research articles from a variety of fields, noting what makes some articles effective and others less so. In the second quarter of the program, students will be invited to identify their own topics for investigation, and continue to develop research tools and methods.

The goal of the program is to help students become good researchers—good at asking and answering questions about complex topics in systematic ways. We expect that students will come to the program with a variety of backgrounds—from little or no experience with quantitative reasoning and statistics to some background, and from limited writing experience to lots of it. Successful students in this program will be intellectually curious and keen to become better at asking and answering good questions. 


Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Education, writing, technical writing, environmental studies, statistics, upper level work across the curriculum, internships

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening

Advertised schedule: 6-9:30p Mon/Wed


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Registration Information

Credits: 8 (Winter); 8 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Number

(8 credits): 20327

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Accepting New Students

Course Reference Number

(8 credits): 30261

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