Assigning the 155 first-year students to do their first-ever research paper was easy; grading that many papers was not. I asked for 7 pages “double-spaced,” but somewhere that detail got lost: most of the papers were 7-10 pages single-spaced. Topics included child labor, child trafficking, early pregnancies, genocide, the right to be educated, women’s rights, etc.
For the most part they did pretty well. My co-teacher and I spent a lot of time going over research methods, including basics such as abstracts, bibliographies, sourcing, etc. When I required 12 sources (only a few from the internet), there was a wave of protest; but I pointed out they could interview people, including some of the many non-government organizations here dealing with human rights issues. Many did interviews. The best did good sourcing and were analytical; the worst amassed information and stapled it together.
Overall, 90 percent completed the assignment.