Because students have already done some basic research in identifying issues, they have laid the groundwork for researching the problem. With research students will be better able to define the problem they want to address and select a project that makes an impact on the problem. Before delving right into your group’s project, it is important to know the who, what, where, and when of your problem from a variety of perspectives.
Here are some questions to consider:
- How does the problem relate to your lives and self-interest?
- How does the issue affect the daily lives of other people? What community need are you addressing?
- How is the issue public? How does the issue affect the school, neighborhood, city, nation, world?
- How is the problem political? What is the controversy? Do different groups define the problem differently, or see this as a problem at all? Is there common ground? What is the history of the problem?
- Who else has worked or is working on this problem? What have other groups, organizations or institutions tried solve this problem?
- How will you know if you have made a difference on this problem? What evidence will you use?
Researching the problem is an excellent opportunity to align activities with curricular standards. This is a place where participants are processing and using information, in addition to gathering new information.
How To Research The Problem
In PA we encourage the students to research their problem by interviewing key community members, students, parents, and teachers. Taking the time to interact with the community before cementing a project will deepen the kids understanding of the issue and associated problems while also helping them determine an appropriate action. Meeting community members will also help the team establish a power base that can maximize their resulting project or action. An excellent way to figure out who in the community has a stake in your issue (stakeholders), is to do Mind mapping.
In addition to interacting with the community, students may want to do more typical “school” research on the internet, library, and by the local press to see how this issue directly affects their community and its members.
Once your group has researched all facets of the issue, they will be much better equipped to define the problem they want to address and the projects that will address it. Because of their knowledge, they already have a good understanding of the many different problems associated with their issue.
Lessons and Activities
- Bull’s Eye Think Globally
- Create Change in Your Community
- Day After Tomorrow Lesson
- Distinguishing Fact From Opinion
- Reading Editorial Cartoons
- Mapping Stakeholders
- Mayor Calls for Help
- Power Analysis
- Power Mapping
- Project Stories
- Project Vision
- Question Cubes Activity
- Six Hats of Edward de Bono
- Stakeholder Art
- Stakeholder Interviews
- Taking a Stand
- Community Contact Sheet
- Community Response Form
- Initial Planning Sheet
- Interview Cover Sheet
- Meeting Agenda
- Mind Mapping & Power Mapping Handout
- Debriefing Worksheet
- Progress Log Sheet
- Research Cover Sheet
- Six Hats of Edward de Bono
- Curriculum Planning Sheet