The researcher has the skills and self-confidence to work without supervision or frequent consultation. He or she will exercise initiative to move the project forward. In the statement “student has independent ideas,” the student originates ideas that are relevant and appropriate to the discipline. The quality of those ideas, however, is not assessed. At the highest levels, the advanced student will generate high-quality ideas about design and analysis and thereby make a collaborative contribution to the work being done, either in terms of a group research project or in terms of advancing the scholarly discourse on the topic.
The researcher can pose relevant, interesting, and answerable questions, can propose methods of answering those questions, can tell whether or not a question has been answered by the data, artifact or event, or by other sources of information, and can gauge the relative importance of unanswered questions.
The intellectually curious person wants to know more than is required of him or her, and actively seeks out and seizes on opportunities to learn. At its best, this curiosity will be focused on, but not limited to, the central issues of the project at hand.
The reader is able to identify the thesis of the written work and to evaluate the arguments and evidence used to support it in terms of logic, the quality of the evidentiary base, and the work’s purpose and intended audience. Other kinds of “texts,” such as theatrical performances, films, painting, sculpture, architecture, speeches, debates, etc., can be similarly “read.”
Sources of Information
The student scholar is presumed to be motivated to use and be knowledgeable about searching for sources of information. Partial efforts include proceeding no further than finding secondary sources such as summaries, digests, and classroom textbooks; naive searches of the internet; or searches that selectively look in one location without exploring other potential sources. In the last two statements on this part of the assessment form, the student is described as using the kinds of sources that research in this discipline should consult, but to varying degrees in terms of amount and thoroughness. Depending on the disciplines, sources include primary sources as well as secondary sources that are directly pertinent to the subject under investigation. The exact mix of appropriate sources used in research varies a good deal by field and the nature of the investigation, and you should evaluate the student’s abilities in selecting the appropriate mix and amount of sources according to the standards of your discipline.
Use and Integration of Information
Types of information may be viewed broadly as types of communication (textual material, quantitative material, pictures, graphs, maps, music, images, etc.) or as the products of different methodologies (e.g., case studies vs aggregate statistics). It may also include a comparison of authoritative text with one’s own experience. For some research the student scholar may be expected to link types of information. A student of art history may use a biography of an artist and examples of her art; a political science student may judge the mood of the electorate through both interviews and opinion polls. Some assignments will not entail the integration of information (e.g., some assignments ask students to analyze a single source of information that is provided to them).
Information may be passively received as authoritative, or the student may rely on his or her critical judgment. When confronted with conflicting information, opposing experts, or conflicting artistic conventions or aesthetic ideologies, students might retreat to relativism or choose a position without explanation. The sophisticated student scholar will take a reasoned position, marshalling supporting information in a coherent manner.
The reasoning used to demonstrate a point or to reach a conclusion should be logical, clearly and convincingly explained, and internally consistent (one part of the argument should not contradict another part). The organization of the argument should be clear and should facilitate the development of complex points. In music, dance, and the graphic arts, it may be more appropriate to consider the intention of the work (its mood, narrative allegory, formal compositional themes, etc.) rather than an argument.
Evidence used to demonstrate an argument should be relevant to the point being argued. It should be accurate and used in a manner consistent with the context from which it was taken. The amount and kind of evidence used should be appropriate to the importance and nature of the point being made (e.g. a minor point might be explicated with a single example, whereas an important or controversial point generally calls for several examples). Evidence should be obtained in an ethical manner. In the third statement (“Student manipulates evidence to fit his/her preconception”), the student uses evidence selectively, disregarding evidence that conflicts with the student’s interpretation or evidence that does not fully support that interpretation.
Factual and Theoretical Context
The researcher should be able to approach the topic and analyze research findings in the context of other relevant facts and in the context of models and approaches appropriate to the discipline (e.g. historians place their findings within a chronological context, evolutionary biologists place their findings within an environmental context). Other relevant contexts may include knowledge of related or contemporaneous facts; events; and cultural, intellectual, or ideological influences.
The creative researcher demonstrates a familiarity with skills in the field including research techniques, accessing and integrating appropriate information, engaging with the revision process, and processing new mechanisms of communication. High achievers in this area should be able to assess the work of others in thoughtful ways and ascertain what a given work is trying to do, rather than simply imposing what he or she would do with the same material.
Generating new knowledge involves efficient transition from established knowledge and techniques to novel approaches, interpretation, and analyses. The researcher demonstrates an understanding and appreciation of specifics of the tradition to which he or she aims to contribute and is able to effectively wrestle with the impact of introducing new information and techniques, creating new possibilities for words, art, movement, explanation, analysis, or methods.
Within the MAP framework multiple perspectives may refer to a project in which the student may have considered ideas from more than one discipline. A higher rating suggests the work displays a knowledge of more than one disciplinary perspective and a treatment of each perspective with integrity and accuracy.
Holistic understanding suggests the work displays evidence of an emergent or meta-cognitive understanding of a complex topic. This understanding may include a dialectical approach to considering multiple views that yields a new synthesis, the creation of a new metaphor to describe the topic, or an integration of multiple perspectives into a broader view.