Those who conduct research are better equipped to make informed decisions and fully comprehend the issues at hand. Would you buy a car without first doing a little research? Some might, but most wouldn't. At this very moment, there are research labs and think tanks devoted to curing cancers, diseases, and other illnesses that people have. Just about everything is researched, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the college we attend.
Now let's bring the conversation back to K-12 schools. If research is so vital to college readiness and reality, why don't more students engage in research projects throughout K-12? Most students who engage in research projects do so at the secondary level - and mainly high school. As an educator, I know first-hand that research projects are not as prevalent at the elementary and middle school level. And if it weren't for Science Fairs and experiments, many students in grades K-8 would rarely engage in research projects at all. This is a huge problem! The biggest complaint from students who enter college out of high school is that they wish they had been exposed to more research in K-12. Think about it, if kindergarten students are taught how to conduct research (even if it is heavily facilitated by the teacher), they enter first grade with a very important skill set that is further cultivated. And if first grade students are given research projects (inside and outside of science), they enter second grade with a very important skill set that is further cultivated. And if second grade students...
You get the point. If students are conducting research projects and writing research papers, throughout their K-12 experience, they are better prepared to engage in research by the time they enter college. So, how can we integrate more research into our instructional practices? You already know my answer - project-based learning! Do our students a favor by preparing them to master the who, what, when, where, why, and how's of research, starting from kindergarten and every grade thereafter until the twelfth grade. Turn the K-12 research deficit into a K-12 research surplus!
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