Underclassmen Write Research Papers


Photo by: Erin McGowan

Trying to ignore distractions, junior Libby Stallbaumer works on her research paper.


Every year, all high school English classes have to research a topic, and then write a paper about it. This research paper is a large unit for every high school student, whether freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, and they get to somewhat express themselves. This assignment takes three to four weeks, with two or three class periods to write the paper.

The ability that a student gets to express themselves is one of the English I and Honors English II teacher, Allyson Coy’s, favorite things about this project, because when she grades the papers, they are about a large range of things. With writing projects over books, a lot of the students have repeats over what others wrote, making grading monotonous.

This, however, is not enough to help some people all the way through the grading process. Tara Bowser, the Honors English I and English III teacher, says that the grading of the research papers is one of the worst things about the project for her, but they both agree that it is a great skill for kids to learn. Coy said that it is “very important” and Bowser said that she “sees the validity” of the assignment.

The freedom of writing is not really complete in some cases of this project. Last year, the Honors English I class had to write about a controversial topic, and the English I class had to write about something pertaining to the news. However, the sophomore class get more freedom, and can cover whatever topic they like.

The idea of a research paper required to be written in an english class is actually relatively new. The first year, it was a learning experience for the teachers. Coy said that her first year with this project, she was “just trying to get through.” Likewise, Bowser said that her first year with the research project was difficult.

More can be learned about Allyson Coy’s class here, and more can be learned about Tara Bowser’s class here.