Research Papers, Inquiry and Critical Thinking

SESSION 1:   10:45 am – 11:45 am          Room 1.101

Research Papers Step 1: Guiding Students to Meaningful Inquiry

Presenter:   Christen Madrazo

How can we get our students excited to truly design their own projects without spoon-feeding them? How can we limit the boredom we face when we’re slapped with a stack of high school level reports or pro/con papers sprinkled with quotes? How can we get rid of data-dumps or didactic “pick-a-side” papers altogether and establish a culture of college-level inquiry, research, and writing with purpose that’s still within our students’ reach? Based on the very basic and cross-discipline concept of “story,” this session will provide ready-to-use, tried-and-true methods for helping students of any level in any discipline design their own projects and, at the same time, get more involved with experiential and active learning opportunities at the college and beyond. Get better papers and more engaged students! All are welcome, and no need to bring anything.


SESSION 2:   1:00 pm – 2:00 pm          Room 1.101

Research Papers Step 2: The Research Paper Assignment, or How to Begin at the Beginning

Presenters:   Andrea Balis, Kathleen Collins

This presentation will address a challenge common to all faculty and students when assigning a research paper: how to get started. Too often, when students set out to find information on their topic or research question, they have no idea where or how to begin. They may know they are supposed to use library databases, but diving into the scholarly literature can be daunting and inefficient. By using sample research assignments, we will suggest ways to help faculty help students go about their initial inquiries in a more effective manner. Being able to grasp the concepts surrounding a given topic will help students formulate more workable research questions which will in turn help them write better papers. We will champion the use of tertiary sources and challenge assumptions and resistance to their use. We will ask attendees to reflect on how they begin the research process in their own work and how that relates to what they ask of their students. After attending this session, faculty will be able to understand how to help students begin the research process; know how to develop assignments that focus on student research skills; and will be able to articulate how they themselves begin research projects.


SESSION 3:   2:15 pm – 3:15 pm          Room 1.101

News Literacy and Critical Thinking

Presenters:   Kathleen Collins, Greg Donaldson

Fake news. Alternative facts. Post-truth. We are living in a world where facts are easier than ever to find yet seem to matter less than ever before. This has critical implications for students in their academic, professional and personal lives and is relevant in almost every course they might take in their college careers. The first half of the session will focus on teaching news and information literacy in the digital age by providing context and case studies curated by Professor Alexa Capeloto (English). We will also introduce tools, resources and activities designed for easy inclusion in your courses (they will be shared via Google Docs for access throughout the semester).

The second half of the session will focus on Times Talk, a weekly discussion session based on the New York Times of the day, which has been running successfully for five years. The program, run by veteran professor of Communications Greg Donaldson, is based on the belief that John Jay students are starved for reliable information on a range of subjects. Professor Donaldson will discuss strategies for drawing students to the sessions and keeping them coming. Some students have attended regularly for four years. A few, who have graduated or transferred, travel from their new schools to John Jay to attend. Donaldson will describe techniques he uses to enhance critical thinking skills and ways to keep debates over hot button issues lively yet collegial.