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College-Level Research Tutorial

This tutorial models and and teaches users how to navigate and reflect on the research process.

Research In Real Life-1

By the end of this Module, you'll learn how to:

  • Develop search terms based on information you already know​
  • Use terms and concepts from search results to find and select appropriate sources​
  • Understand that your ideas are part of both broader and more specific conversation

Many of us find information in our daily lives like Kai does in this example: 

Kai recognizes an actor in the film they're watching. They enter the movie's title into Google, and navigate to IMDb to browse the cast list. Here, Kai uses the title (information they already know) to search for an answer to their question​ (who the actor is).

We all have "go to" sources, but do you ever wonder why you don't get the search results you want or why your searches return mostly information you already know? In this module, we will build a strategy for finding information beyond what we already know, starting by organizing our ideas into related terms and concepts. 

Practical Skills-1

Watch the three videos: 1. Organize what you know, 2. Understand Search Results, and 3. Evaluate a Website. Use the arrow commands below the media player to move on to the next video.

Try it Out-1: Mind Mapping

1. Use the Mind Map Chart to group related ideas


To break down big ideas into researchable questions and ideas, it helps to make a map of the information you already know. Think about which concepts go well together. Then, select terms from the bank below and drag them to the place in the chart that makes the most sense to you. There is no wrong way to organize these terms, but it will help to consider which terms are general and which terms are more specific.

2. Discuss

  • Look at how you've grouped the terms in your mind map. Which terms did you put together and why?
  • Compare your mind map with a partner. Did they choose and arrange the terms differently than you? Discuss how you decided to group your terms.

21st Century Skills-1: Why Search Algorithms Matter

Algorithms are complex sets of instructions typically used by computers to execute a task or solve a problem, and they play a big role in the way we experience and view the world. Social media platforms, artificial intelligence, and search engines like Google all rely on algorithms to find, organize, and display content based on data these services collect on their users. In the video ‘Algorithms of Oppression’ Noble talks about how we perceive search results as “Objective/Fair/ Neutral," but, in reality there are many algorithmic controls that shape the results we see.

1. Watch

After watching the ‘Algorithms of Oppression’ video, reflect on the question below.

2. Discuss

  • We know that Google uses a search algorithm to anticipate what you want to find. Is this always a helpful feature? Describe an example of a situation in which personalized results are appreciated and an example of when personalized results are misleading.

Instructions for Reuse

UWM College-level Research Tutorial 2020 by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.