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Educ 217 - Foundations of Education: Topic Development

Background/Overviews

How to Narrow and Focus Your Topic

Start by phrasing your subject or general topic in the form of a question.

Then ask yourself further questions about your topic:

  • What do you know about it? What don't you know?
  • What aspects or viewpoints of your topic interest you? Examples include social, legal, medical, ethical, biological, psychological, economic, political, and philosophical. A viewpoint allows you to focus on a single aspect.
  • What time period do you want to cover?
  • What place or geographic region do you want to cover? Examples include national, international, local social norms & values, economic & political systems, or languages.
  • What population do you want to cover? Examples include gender, age, occupation, ethnicity, nationality, educational attainment, species, etc.
  • What is the history of your topic?  How did it originate? How has it changed?
  • How does your topic fit into a larger system or structure?
  • Next, look for resources which provide background information. Some selected general and specialized subject sources can help narrow the topic.
  • Remember, there are two layers of research:
    1) a broad search to discover resources and to read some background information
    2) specific searches for information once you've focused your topic.