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Research Topics & Questions

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Exquisite Corpse Topic Narrowing Activity

In this activity, students engage in an "exquisite corpse"-style activity, where they will get to pass around their research topic idea and see how other students in the room understand, interpret, illustrate, and expand upon it. 

Crafting Insightful Research Questions

Through this activity, students examine what constitutes a strong research question and then, through peer workshopping, start to develop a question to guide their own project.

Crowdsourcing Research Topics and Paths

This discussion-board-based activity helps students narrow down their final RBA research topic by encouraging students to collaborate with each other at the initial stage of conceiving of their RBA projects. 

Metonyms and Lenses - Focusing Your Research

This topic helps students narrow and focus their research topics by having them consider them in reference to the idea of the metonym.

The Reflexivity Memo: Developing Student Researcher Identity through Writing

This writing activity asks students to understand their various positionalities as researchers/writers and to recognize how their embodied socialized practices shape their research questions and practices.

Jumbo ‘Spectra’ Worksheets for Narrowing Topics and Locating Positions

In this activity, students use a pair of worksheets to create a visual mapping of research questions to help them focus their topic and their inquiry and identify positions beyond "yes" and "no."

Accordion Pre-Write

Students create an "accordion" of these questions to see the full spectrum of possibilities for their research, developing greater insight into the pitfalls of overly-specific or overly-general questions and the advantages of carefully-focused inquiry.


Research Topic Brainstorm

This asynchronous activity follows a class discussion in which students brainstorm different topics; it asks students to submit their own ideas to Canvas and receive instructor feedback. 


Research Question Generator with Padlet

This asynchronous activity uses Padlet to help students generate research questions with a rhetorical approach. Students not only craft research questions with different emphases, they also critically reflect on critical rhetorical concepts and the purpose of their research. 


Research Question Framing

This asynchronous activity helps students think through the process of framing their research questions at the early stage of their RBA by asking them to consider different ways of framing their research questions. It also encourages students to work with each other in the process of finalizing their research questions.


Research Proposal Planning Table

This asynchronous activity helps students thoroughly examine their research proposals with a rhetorical approach. Students not only look at different components of the research question itself, but also critically reflect on their audience and the purpose of their research to prepare for an excellent oral delivery of their research proposals.



Online Research Mixer

Instructors designed a 60-minute online workshop (research mixer) between freshmen composition students two different universities. During the session, students have the opportunity to introduce their research projects and provide and receive feedback on their drafts. 


Collaborative invention: working with research topics

This collaborative activity invites students to help their classmates to narrow and focus their research topics by taking turns contributing to a shared worksheet that asks them to engage with the topic in different ways.  

These activities are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Please remember to attribute all activities to their original authors (even if with an “adapted from”) on any handouts, webtexts, slides, or assignments sheets you generate from them.

If you have any activities of your own that you’d like to share, please send them here.