Outcome One: 

Use writing to investigate complex, relevant topics and address significant questions through engagement with and effective use of credible sources.

Questions to consider when thinking through this outcome:

  • How are student writers being engaged with complex projects relevant to the discipline of the course?

  • Do those topics require research?

  • What types of research (field work, library, etc)?

  • Is it clear how the students will learn to integrate/use primary and/or secondary source materials?

Relevant topics vary by discipline, but all students should gain knowledge of process(es) for conducting focused academic research. Abilities included in this outcome include identifying credible sources, summarizing and synthesizing sources to present to particular audiences, and integrating material from sources into one’s own writing through summary, paraphrase, and/or quotation. Tools that can be used or adapted to address this outcome are located below.

Featured Resources

Academic Synthesis

This resource explains how to craft an effective annotated bibliography, outline, or literature review (PDF).


This handout discusses the elements one should consider before writing: the writer's audience, format, voice, purpose, and topic (PDF).

Evaluating Sources, Examining Ethos

In this resource, a writer will learn how to determine the ethos (credibility) of the writer and how to evaluate the levels of credibility, reliability, and trustworthiness of sources (PDF).

Paraphrase, Summarize, Quote

The differences among paraphrasing, summarizing, and quoting are explained in this handout. Use this resource to determine what each of these strategies are, when to use them, how often to use them, how to use them, and each of their citation requirements (PDF).

Additional Resources

Addressing Higher Order Concerns (PDF)

This resource offers suggestions for ways instructors can address higher order concerns (the big issues not addressed by proofreading or editing for grammar, punctuation, and word choice) when evaluating student writing.

Conducting Research - Seven Steps (PDF)

This guide explains a seven step strategy one can use when conducting research.

Critical Thinking Checklist (PDF)

To be a critical thinker in the 21st Century is an important global skill. This handout offers a how-to guide to use in being a critical thinker.

Tips for Active Reading (PDF)

Active reading includes interpretation and reflection of text in which the reader makes meaning, determines significance, and checks for one's own understanding. This resource offers five suggestions to be an active reader.

Unpacking a Concept (PDF)

When trying to better understand new concepts or ideas, the term "unpacking" is often used. This handout explains what it means to unpack a concept.

Finding Your Focus (PPT)

Every writer has their own process, or way, of writing. From the way we invent concepts to how we collect research, organize our thoughts, and draft, revise, and proofread, our writing processes are unique to each individual writer. This resource details ways the writer can better establish their own writing process.