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Arts & Letters Daily

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Report: Investigation

Writing a report based on an investigation

Inquiry Process

Notes

Readers can be quite sceptical about the information used in an essay or report to convince them about the writer’s main idea or argument. Did the writer ‘pick and choose’ certain information to support his point of view? Readers expect that writers show that they have conducted a comprehensive investigation and applied inductive reasoning accurately to verify the information and arguments presented. 

To provide readers with confidence in what is written, writers must engage in two processes: the inquiry process and inductive reasoning. The inquiry process is used to find relevant facts and evidence that can lead to a conclusion.  This process includes the following steps:

  • Recognize a problem or ask a question
  • Formulate a hypothesis or hunch about a possible solution
  • Identify logical implications  or common sense that supports the hunch
  • Gather relevant data or information about the problem
  • Analyze, interpret and evaluate the evidence
  • State a generalization or a conclusion

The truth of the conclusion based on inductive reasoning is determined by evidence. It is always liable to possible rejection in the light of further evidence. Writers must make sure that the evidence they present is accurate and sound. They must acknowledge that new evidence may challenge any previous conclusions.

After you have read the following report, read the analysis that follows.

Sample

Dr. Julie Anderson’s Study

Dr. Julie Anderson at Altru Health System, was alarmed at the anecdotal reports coming from doctors in Grand Forks immediately after the Great Flood of ’97. Based on this preliminary data, she suspected that the residents were experiencing more health problems after the Flood. She was also wondering what impact the flood might have on families. In her mind, it was reasonable to assume that a great tragedy might cause increased illness and family disruptions. Hence, she initiated a study based on the hypothesis that the Flood had a negative impact on people’s health and on family life. Anderson ‘s research, comparing the two years after the flood with the two years prior, showed a 6 percent increase in hospital admissions and a 14 percent increase in clinic visits. The Study also showed a substantial increase in divorces after the flood. Dr. Anderson’s research confirmed her hypothesis. It is reasonable to assume that a great tragedy might cause increased illness and family disruptions.

Template: Investigation

  • Recognize a problem

Dr. Julie Anderson at Altru Health System was alarmed at the anecdotal reports coming from doctors in Grand Forks immediately after the Great Flood of ’97. Based on this preliminary data, she suspected that the residents were experiencing more health problems after the Flood. She was also wondering what impact the flood might have on families.

  • Formulate a hypothesis

Hence, she initiated a study based on the hypothesis that the Flood had a negative impact on people’s health and on family life.

  • Identify logical implications

In her mind, it was reasonable to assume that a great tragedy might cause increased illness and family disruptions.

  • Gather relevant data

Anderson’s research, comparing the two years after the flood with the two years prior,

  • Analyze, interpret and evaluate

showed a 6 percent increase in hospital admissions and a 14 percent increase in clinic visits. The Study also showed a substantial increase in divorces after the flood.

  • State generalization

Dr. Anderson’s research confirmed her hypothesis. It is reasonable to assume that a great tragedy might cause increased illness and family disruptions.

Assignment

Read the following report and complete the template below.

Teaching and Learning: Where to from Here?

“The struggle to use computers wisely and well is one of the most important challenges we and our children face, and schools are a crucial area in which this challenge must be confronted.”

Alison Armstrong and Charles Casement, the child and the machine (1998).

This quote summarizes the fundamental concern raised by Armstrong and Casement about the use of computers in education. Driven by a commitment to quality education, Armstrong visited many classrooms in North America to observe how computers are used and Casement reviewed the research literature on the use of computers in schools. The book describes the large scale failure of the use of computers in schools.

For example, the authors quote Bettelheim and Zelan, “for most children, learning to read is not an entertainment but hard work, a difficult task requiring serious application.” From this they conclude that, “the multimedia attractions of electronic books and CD-Rom encyclopaedias might well lead children to equate reading with visual entertainment so that they keep looking around for meaning instead of creating it inside their own heads”. Another example cited in the book refers to computer-based learning programs which require no teacher input. The third example refers to writing. Armstrong and Casement acknowledge that using a word processor makes writing easier for children – the text can be changed instantly, children are more likely to take risks and discuss and revise their texts with peers because the text is visually displayed. On the other hand Armstrong and Casement found that a lack of efficient keyboarding skills and knowledge of software commands made writing on computers more difficult.

The authors discovered one successful Study which was conducted by the University of Manitoba and River East School Division to determine whether the use of computers can improve students’ ability to write information text. The researcher anticipated that if certain the conditions were met then computers could improve students’ ability to write essays and reports. The researcher collected pre and post data from control and pilot classes to monitor any change in students’ writing. The following conditions were monitored. First, students used specific thinking and writing strategies to think through and refine their ideas. Second, they were in a writing environment that enabled them to move easily among the organizing, composing, revising and publishing phases of the writing process. Third, students to shared and exchanged their texts with peers, teachers and other adults. Finally and most important, students had teachers who demonstrated how to apply the writing and thinking strategies and the technical skills related to the use of computers. The success of this Study was based on the findings of the Study. Students in the pilot group performed significantly better on two counts. They improved their performance from the pre-test to the post test and they performed better than the students in the control group.

The challenge of using computers for teaching and learning is acknowledged by Armstrong and Casement when they conclude their book with the following statement, “Children’s educational needs are best met by giving them a range of appropriate tools. We cannot rely on a single technology to do the job of educating our children.” Since advocates and critics alike want schools to provide quality education to which students are entitled, they should heed the authors’ advice.

Template: Investigation

  • Recognize a problem

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Formulate a hypothesis

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Identify logical implications

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Gather relevant data

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Analyze, interpret and evaluate

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • State generalization

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

Assignment

Writing Assignment: Investigation

Write a paragraph in which you present an investigation on a topic of your choice. Complete the template below to ensure that you have included all aspects of the investigation process. Submit it to your teacher or tutor for feedback. Then edit your paragraph based on the feedback you received.

Template: Investigation

  • Recognize a problem

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Formulate a hypothesis

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Identify logical implications

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Gather relevant data

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • Analyze, interpret and evaluate

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

  • State generalization

_____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________

Answer Key

Investigation

  • Recognize a problem

“The struggle to use computers wisely and well is one of the most important challenges we and our children face, and schools are a crucial area in which this challenge must be confronted.”

Alison Armstrong and Charles Casement, the child and the machine (1998).

  • Formulate a hypothesis

to determine whether the use of computers can improve students’ ability to write information text

  • Identify logical implications

The researcher anticipated that if certain the conditions were met then computers could improve students’ ability to write essays and reports.

  • Gather relevant data

The researcher collected pre and post data from control and pilot classes to monitor any change in students’ writing.

  • Analyze, interpret and evaluate

The success of this Study was based on the findings of the Study. Students in the pilot group performed significantly better on two counts. They improved their performance from the pre-test to the post test and they performed better than the students in the control group.

  • State generalization

“Children’s educational needs are best met by giving them a range of appropriate tools. We cannot rely on a single technology to do the job of educating our children.”