Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Sign In Skip to Content

Advice for teachers -
Extended Investigation

Teaching and learning activities

Unit 4: Presenting an extended investigation

Unit 4 – Area of Study 1: Presenting the final research report

Central role of critical thinking

Outcome 1

Complete a written report for an educated non-specialist audience that presents and evaluates the results of the extended investigation.

Examples of learning activities

  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    explore a generic structure for research-report writing: students complete statement sentences for each section of their research project, focusing on the key information or headings to be used.
  • translating a paragraph: students locate a complex sentence/paragraph in one of their readings that is representative of the technical and complex language of their field. They highlight complex words and phrases that an educated non-specialist audience would not understand. They rewrite the sentence/paragraph in simpler language for this audience; they then exchange sentences/paragraphs with a partner to check for effectiveness.
  • references: students decide on what ‘field’ or ‘discipline’ best describes their research investigation. They research, using a search engine, the referencing requirements for their particular discipline or field of investigation and make notes on these conventions. They then complete an appropriately formatted example reference for each key text type.
  • writing: students spend 10 minutes writing a paragraph about their particular research area (what they know, what they have discovered, etc.). They re-read this paragraph, highlighting statements of fact in one colour, and statements of opinion in a different colour. For each statement of fact they decide whose idea it is, and find an appropriate supporting reference; for each statement of opinion, they decide if it is their own or someone else’s. They must then find a reference to support each idea.
  • drafting and editing: teacher demonstrates the editing process using a sample paragraph and showing students ways in which it can be written in a targeted and succinct way, focusing particularly on register, tone, sentence structure and formal writing.
  • teacher demonstrates the correct use of in-text citations and corresponding footnotes, in two different referencing systems. Students are also shown how footnotes can be over-used in situations where it is more appropriate to include information in the body of the report.
Example icon for advice for teachers 

Detailed examples

Mock paragraphs

Students draft paragraphs about selected aspects of their research area, aiming for succinct and clear writing. Topics to focus on each time this exercise is used may include:

  • project aim and significance
  • main field of research
  • key areas of agreement or divergence in literature
  • research methods
  • possible complications
  • data generated
  • findings.

Students critique each other’s work. Prior to this, teacher models an annotation process for the paragraphs as follows: three coloured highlighters are used to indicate sections that are (a) excellent, (b) unclear or too complex and (c) missing references. Students are given the opportunity to respond to the feedback from their peers.

The writing 'story'

Teacher introduces the idea that the written report should tell a story. The analogy of stepping stones or a garden path may be useful here, the goal of the report being to step the reader through the investigation without them getting lost and wandering off the path. The teacher then models how headings and subheadings can be used to direct reader attention. Students learn how to list the key arguments/ideas that come under each heading/subheading by analysing an existing piece of writing before they apply this to their own work.

The same process can be used for the literature review: after the teacher has modelled a generic example, students consider the most logical way to group and synthesise the elements of the literature they are discussing in their report by creating a ‘garden path’ for their literature review. They then put this into practice.

Unit 4 – Area of Study 2: Defending research findings

Outcome 2

Explain the investigation, critically evaluate their research process, and defend research findings in a presentation to an educated non-specialist audience.

Examples of learning activities

  • students form pairs who sit on opposite sides of a table. Each pair is given an issue and for two minutes, one person argues the affirmative and the other, the negative. After five minutes, the pairs swap places, physically and ideologically. They may not, however, use any of the arguments for the position that their partner has just used. The purpose of this exercise is to develop flexibility and spontaneity in thinking and speaking.
  • Example icon for advice for teachers
    signposting: students work as a whole class to generate a list of signposting phrases; they then work in pairs to construct a brief speech that incorporates three or more signposting phrases.
  • each student is given one sparkler. In turns, students give a short speech on a topic of their choice or one assigned by the teacher. (It may or may not be related to their investigation.) As each student begins to speak, their sparkler is lit and they must complete their speech before it burns out. This activity should be conducted outdoors and under teacher direction, a tub of water for used sparklers is advised.
  • questions: teacher works with students to develop a list of questions in response to a sample research abstract or piece of academic research. Students then apply this process to one of their peer’s research. Their questions are shared between class members. The teacher leads a discussion about the need for higher-order questioning and the most appropriate and effective way to respond to questions.
  • adjusting language: teacher demonstrates how speakers can effectively adjust their presentation to a non-specialist audience, using TED talks or clips by Carolyn Porco, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and other popular presenters. After viewing/listening to each one, students reflect on, discuss and evaluate the techniques observed.
Example icon for advice for teachers 

Detailed examples

Mock presentations

Students are presented with a topic. They have 15 minutes to research and prepare a three-minute speech presenting an opinion and defending their given topic, followed by three minutes of questions.

The purpose of this presentation is for students to familiarise themselves with talking about different aspects of their research, and to build their confidence in anticipating and answering questions in front of an audience.

It is not the purpose of this presentation to answer the questions completely and accurately and students should feel comfortable enough to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I will need to do some research into that’.

Possible topics for these mock presentations include:

  • the importance of chocolate
  • the value of music
  • the importance of oxygen
  • the value of sport and exercise.

A similar task may be undertaken in relation to the student’s particular research topics, or an aspect of it.

Explaining complex concepts

Teacher provides the class with a list of complex concepts. They use these to model two different approaches to breaking them down for a non-specialist audience. This might include using an allegory or metaphor, or breaking down into steps. Students then apply this process to the other examples listed, and share their work with the class.