• Everyday Research

    Everyday Research

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Criteria are the keys to research and decision making and must be relevant to the particular subject at hand. Without a set of standards that are objective, measurable, and relevant, conducting research and making decisions become a mere extension of a writer's personal likes and dislikes. Selecting the best and narrowest criteria makes research more interesting and decision-making more manageable for you, the writer.

Evaluative Criteria

Two "gurus," who prove to be more than just "a couple of talking heads," discuss how everyday life can provide opportunities for research and argument. Making a decision in everyday life is easier if you plan in advance and use predetermined criteria. Typically, the steps are to select the criteria first, next do the research, and then make a reasoned decision about an item of personal importance such as a life change, attendance at a university, or a product purchase. If you are planning to purchase a riding lawnmower, for example, you might consider cost, durability, and usefulness as your governing criteria. Then you would research costs of the various brands of riding lawnmowers, check out the various manufacturers’ information for durability, and finally, interview owners who have purchased particular brands of riding lawnmowers.

Video Focus Point

Look for answers to this question when watching the video: 

  • Describe situations in everyday life where you make decisions based on criteria you define and information you gather based on these criteria.


Defining Criteria

Characters who play the roles of student writers convene in the café setting where they will be meeting. The group gathers to discuss essay assignments and model the process of selecting a topic, refining a thesis, drafting an essay, participating in peer review sessions, and rewriting the essay.  In the initial meeting, the group brainstorms to develop criteria as the students begin their assignment to select criteria, conduct research, and write about a choice they are making in everyday life.

Video Focus Points

Look for answers to these questions when watching the video:

  • Why do students in the writer’s group decide to continue meeting?
  • What helps the student writers develop criteria for making personal decisions?
  • How do the criteria move the writers beyond merely liking or disliking something?


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Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.

—Zora Neale Hurston