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Page history last edited by Laura Stemler 9 years, 9 months ago


Created by Ken Macrorie in 1988 because he was “discouraged at the quality of writing his students demonstrated.”  Doll (2003) 


Sampling of Information


The model is currently in use in schools, examples can be seen at this website:



Research has been conducted on I-Search as Doll (2003) explains, "Duncan and Lockhart (2002) report integrating I-Search into two class units for three third grade classes. In this informal study, student academic achievement improved in all three cases."  A University of Hawaii professor, Violet Harada, also conducted a study on the techniques of the I-Search.  Harada investigated the question: “How do we help children move from merely going through the motions of learning to actually make personal meaning of their world?” (Doll 2003)  However Harada's study seems to have focused merely on the journaling portion of the I-Search process.


Although I do like all aspects of this model I selected I-Search because I was drawn to–what I feel–is the most unique aspect of the model, which is allowing students to choose their own topic.   I feel that students are more likely to retain any information gained using this model since their topic would be of personal interest, which is why I believe it would be so effective in a classroom.  The journaling portion is also a wonderful step, allowing students to go back and re-evaluate their information and keeping track of any sources so they do not loose any valuable information.



Curriculum Alignment


Doll (2003) explains the process as: 

Key Steps Standards for the 21st Century Learner

1.     Students choose a topic of interest; this seems to be the key to the entire process.

4.1.1, 4.1.4, 4.1.5, 4.2.2, 4.4.1

2.     Students will keep a journal recording their search for information on the topic

1.1.4, 1.1.6, 1.2.2, 1.2.3, 1.2.4, 1.2.6, 1.3.2, 1.3.3, 1.3.5, 1.4.2, 1.4.4, 2.1.1, 2.2.1, 2.4.1, 4.1.6, 4.2.1, 4.4.3

3.     Finally students will write a paper explaining what they found from their search, written in first person.  The following steps are suggested for use in writing the paper:

a)     What I knew (and didn’t know about my topic when I started out).

b)    Why I’m writing this paper.

c)     The search

d)    What I learned (or didn’t learn.  A search that failed can be as exciting and valuable as one that succeeded) (Macrorie 1988, 64)”

1.1.3, 1.1.5, 1.1.7, 1.2.1, 1.3.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.6, 2.2.3, 2.2.4, 2.3.3, 2.4.3, 3.1.1, 3.1.3






(following Jamie McKenzie's Scaffolding for Success found on http://fno.org/dec99/scaffold.html)


     I-Search has a very basic scaffolding, it contains steps which are easy to understand and implement allowing the teacher to expand the model, fitting their subject or curriculum.  This basic structure also makes I-Search very efficient.  Students are selecting their own topic, which means they will most likely have a high interest level, so they should be able to stay on task fairly well.  The selection of a topic of interest will also help the students keep momentum throughout the project.  While there are no rubrics provided for grading, the teacher can evaluate the students comprehension through the completion of the journal and paper.  The journal will allow students to reflect on their work throughout their research. 



Audience Comprehension


The model is appropriate for elementary and secondary students.


Though most research papers are assigned in middle and high schools this model can be used in elementary settings.  Doll (2003) explains, “Duncan and Lockhart have used it successfully with first graders and in a modified version with kindergarten students; Tallman reports she has used it successfully at the kindergarten level.”

I-Search is such a basic model it can molded to fit any curriculum, learning style, and student need.  Doll (2003) states, “At the same time, one of the major strengths of I-Search is its flexibility and adaptability.  Knowledgeable library media specialists and teachers can use all of portions of the process depending on the needs of their students.”


As far as meeting the needs of students and their learning styles, the model is adaptable enough to change and meet any need.  Doll (2003) explains that, “there is evidence that this model has been used successfully with and is recommended for instruction with a wide range of students of varying developmental and ability levels.”




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Last Updated 2009  

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