Good research habits every child can learn

Girl with a magnifying glass

At a glance

  • Keywords, note-making, skimming and scanning are valuable skills your child can use to hone their research.
  • Keywords are words that relate to the main idea of a topic.
  • Note-making involves extracting and recording the main ideas of a text in an organised way.
  • Skimming is used to get the main idea of a text as quickly as possible.
  • Scanning is used to search for keywords or phrases.

Effective research involves more than just finding any information on the topic of study. Keywords, note-making, skimming and scanning are valuable skills your child can use to hone their research and ensure the information they gather is targeted and relevant to their topic.

Using keywords

Keywords are words that relate to the main idea of a topic. They can be used to gain access to the meaning of the topic and to assist with internet searches. Keywords can also be used to scan a passage for relevant information. Your child may need some help to make a list of keywords on a topic. For example, some keywords for the topic of whales could be: cetaceans, marine mammals, migration, endangered, fins, flukes, blowholes, pods, Odontoceti, Mysticeti, reproduction, lifespan.

Note-making

Note-making involves extracting and recording the main ideas of a text in an organised and systematic way. Its purposes are to:

  • assist understanding
  • identify key concepts
  • plan speaking or writing
  • assist recall of information
  • express ideas clearly and succinctly.

 

Some notes on whales could be:

Keywords

Notes

Mammals

Give birth to live young, feed off milk from mother, high internal body temperature

Cetaceans

Belonging to group including dolphins and porpoises

Adaptation

Blubber to maintain warmth

Endangered

Hunted for blubber, meat, bones

Migration

Winter migration to warmer waters

Odontoceti

Toothed whales – around 73 species

Mysticeti

Or Baleen whales (14 or 15 species)

Identifying features

Fins, flukes, blowholes

 

Skimming

Skimming is used to get to the main idea of a text as quickly as possible. Skimming is done at a speed three to four times faster than normal reading. People often skim when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time. It's also used to see if an article may be of relevance in researching a topic. Skimming works well to find dates, names and places.

There are many strategies than can be used when skimming:

  • look at the title, subtitles, headings, subheadings, words in bold print and illustrations
  • read the first sentence of each paragraph
  • read the first and last paragraphs.

Using our example of whales, you could check when searching the internet or in a reference book that the entry has all the general information on whales – cetaceans, marine mammals, migration etc.

Scanning

Scanning is used to search for keywords or phrases. It involves moving your eyes quickly down the page or through a paragraph, seeking specific words and phrases. An example could be looking up the word ‘Baleen' in a dictionary.


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