I-Search is "an approach to research that uses the power of student interests, builds a personal understanding of the research process, and encourages stronger student writing" (Joyce & Tallman, vii). The key element of this approach is that students select topics of personal interest. This model also stresses metacognitive thinking. Students are asked to keep a log of their action, thoughts, and feelings as they move through the process. In addition, students are asked to reflect on their previous research experiences to set the stage for an appreciation of the research process.
Based on Ken Macrorie's 1988 book entitled, The I-Search Paper, I-Search proposes an alternative to the traditional research paper. Often used by middle and high school students, the inquiry-based approach can also be used with elementary or college students. According to Ken Macrorie, the key to I-Search is that students work on meaningful projects.
In the 1990's Marilyn Joyce and Julie Tallman adapted Macrorie's approach for use in the research process.
Read A Process Approach: The I-Search with Grade 5: They Learn! by Carol Bowen in Teacher Librarian (Dec 2001, Vol, 29, Issue 2, p14, 4p). IUPUI password required.
Four Tasks of I-Search
I-Search is a process that includes four general steps:
- Selecting a topic - exploring interests, discussing ideas, browsing resources
- Finding information - generating questions, exploring resources
- Using information - taking notes, analyzing materials
- Developing a final product - developing communications, sharing experiences
Connecting Writing and Research through the I-search Paper (Sept/Oct 1995, Vol. 23, Issue 1, p 20, 4p) (IUPUI password required)
I-Search: Guiding Student Toward Relevant Research from Educational Leadership (Sept 1995, Vol. 52, Issue 1, p48). (PDF document, IUPUI password requires)
I-Search Paper from Delta College
I-Search Paper Format Guide from EnglishWorks! (Contains samples)
Joyce, Marilyn Z. & Tallman, Julie I. (1997). Making the Writing and Research Connection with the I-Search Process. How-To-Do-It Manuals for Librarians, Number 62. Neal-Schuman.
Macrorie, K. (1988). The I-Search Paper. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers.
Making the Curriculum and Instructional Reform Happen: A Case Study in Peabody Journal of Education (1999) (IUPUI password required)
Researching the I-Search Paper - a student paper about I-Search
ScienceQuest: Literacy Development Within an Informal Science Education Initiative by Judith M. Zorfass & Jennifer Dorsen in Reading Online.