Now that it is research paper season, it is time to decide what topic to assign to your middle or high school students. I firmly believe in choosing a broad umbrella topic and allowing your students to each select their specific topic. Providing students with the opportunity to select what they research enhances student buy-in and interest. Here is a quick list of possible research paper topics for high school and middle school.
Five Research Paper Topics for Secondary ELA
Research Paper Topics: Social Problems Currently Affecting our Society
For this research topic, students are free to choose any social problem that our society is currently facing. A current issue, world issue, or social issue research paper can include almost anything from global warming to childhood hunger to antibiotic resistance.
This type of research project one of my favorites because it is a high-interest paper for high school students. Since students get to select their topic to research, they get to read about and investigate an issue that is interesting to them. My controversial issues research paper assignment is ideal for this topic.
Research Paper Topics: Careers
As educators, we prepare students for college and career readiness. Why not combine your academic lesson with something students can directly apply to their lives? Have students select a possible career path that interests them and research it. The research assignment can ask students to examine anything from how to get hired, to the salary, to the qualifications.
One way to make this research paper more applicable to students, especially high school students, is to also include a college and education component to the paper. As a requirement, have students research potential colleges, majors, and training facilities that offer the type of education required for their chosen careers.
My Future Career Research Paper includes visually-appealing organizers and research writing support for students.
Research Paper Topics: Influential People
Select any time period of your choice and have students select one influential person from that time. Students will have to research a bit more if you select an earlier time period. This project also works excellently as a cross-curricular assignment with fellow social science teachers. You can work with the social science teachers in your grade level to determine what period the students are currently learning about in their social science class. Connect that period to your research project, and your students will get to see the value of learning across multiple courses.
Research Paper Topics: Technologies of the Future
With such an emphasis placed on STEM subjects, this is a great way to tie in the English language arts with the sciences. Encourage your students to research about up and coming technologies that will forever change the way we live, do business and conduct health care in our country.
Research Paper Topics: Inventions
Our world is continually changing, and it is always fun to research and see the history behind some of the devices we take for granted. I included this research topic in my Research Paper Writing Unit. For this paper, I asked students to research and select one invention that has dramatically impacted our lives today. Students can choose any invention of their choice, as long as it was invented before 1950. This assignment is a fun research topic because it forces students to think outside of smartphones, smart-watches, and smart TVs.
If you are interested in how I introduce research paper writing to my students, check out the first blog post in this series: Part 1: Introducing Research Writing and the Assignment.
Teaching the Research Paper: A Research Paper Writing Instructional Unit
Take the stress out of teaching your students how to write a research paper with this complete research writing unit! This comprehensive and complete research paper writing unit will help you teach your students how to write a research paper. Now available in print + digital!
This step-by-step resource teaches your students the eight steps of research writing, and it includes every single thing you could need for a successful research writing unit! Plus, it is updated for 9th edition MLA!
The editable teaching presentation (which comes in both PowerPoint and Google Slides®) is ideal for direct instruction and includes multiple days of guided instruction! The research writing presentation introduces students to the eight steps for completing a research project: selecting topics, generating questions, brainstorming, researching and gathering credible information, organizing and outlining, writing the first draft, peer editing, and finalizing the paper.