ALEX Lesson Plan


Your English Mentor: How to Write a Career Research Paper

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Marie Brisco
System: Baldwin County
School: Foley Middle School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 5680


Your English Mentor: How to Write a Career Research Paper


This structural design will guide students in writing a career research paper from start to finish. They will gather information; cite sources MLA style; develop a thesis statement, outline, and paragraphs; and create a research paper with references.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
IL (K-12)
1. The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.
  • Recognizes the need for information.
  • Recognizes that accurate and comprehensive information is the basis for intelligent decision making.
  • Formulates questions based on information needs.
  • Identifies a variety of potential sources of information.
  • Develops and uses successful strategies for locating information.
  • IL (K-12)
    2. The student who is information literate evaluates information critically and competently.
  • Determines accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness.
  • Distinguishes among fact, point of view, and opinion.
  • Identifies inaccurate and misleading information.
  • Selects information appropriate to the problems or question at hand.
  • IL (K-12)
    3. The student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively.
  • Organizes information for practical application.
  • Integrates new information into one's own knowledge.
  • Applies information in critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Produces and communicates information and ideas in appropriate formats.
  • IL (K-12)
    8. The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and practices ethical behavior in regard to information and information technology.
  • Respects the principles of intellectual freedom.
  • Respects intellectual property rights.
  • Uses information technology responsibly.
  • ELA2015 (12)
    22. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 19-21 above.) [W.11-12.4]
    ELA2015 (12)
    23. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of the first three standards in the Language strand in Grades K-12.) [W.11-12.5]
    ELA2015 (12)
    24. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information. [W.11-12.6]

    Local/National Standards:


    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Students will conduct individual research by applying a structural steps system (process learning) for gathering information, evaluating sources and classifying information, citing sources MLA style, formulating a thesis statement, developing an outline, and composing paragraphs to create a career research paper with references (a written product) in a computer word processing software program. Students will self-assess learning with a rubric.

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

    Students will evaluate their own interests and skills to determine a specific and realistic transition career goal to investigate -- accurately and creatively -- using the Internet. Students will use computer technology sources and software to produce a career research paper.

     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Self-Evaluation Worksheet (download from URL in Step 1), Outline (see attachment), Sample of Source Cards (see attachment), Rubric for Grading Research Paper (see attachment), large manila envelope to store ongoing research and materials, highlighter, 3 x 5 inch index cards, 5 x 8 inch index cards, printer paper

    Technology Resources Needed:

    Computers with Internet access, printer, word processing software.


    TELL THE STUDENTS: First, you must desire to learn about the career you choose and be willing to follow a guide to help you in this research process. You must be able to read, follow directions, work independently, ask for help in an appropriate manner, and set timelines for completion of work. You must be able to stay organized and keep up with the individual components in your large manila envelope.

    1.)Guide the students through the following process of completing self-directed research and producing a career exploration research paper.
    THINK ABOUT YOU - Think about school activities that you like to do. Which activities are you skilled in; for example, what is easy for you to do? How important are these activities to you? These are some of the interests and skills you should consider when selecting an occupation. Ask the counselor to provide a career interest inventory. (The teacher will provide one such inventory, the Self-Evaluation Worksheet, downloaded from this web site:
    (NASA Quest)
    Print pages seven through eleven.

    2.)DECIDE ON A CAREER AND DEVELOP A TEMPORARY OUTLINE WITH THESIS STATEMENT - Start with a solid overview article to gain a perspective of an outline if you are new to writing career research papers. For example, go to this URL: and search your career. From this article, you can surmise a general outline to guide you in your research. (TEACHERS: See attachment, Career Research Paper Outline, for an example.) All students should be given a copy of the attachment, "ubric for Grading Research Papers."

    3.)RESEARCH, BUT DOCUMENT YOUR SOURCES METICULOUSLY - Go and search encyclopedias, (such as Career Discovery Encyclopedia), books, or Internet sites (such as You are looking for articles that provide information needed for your outline (which will make your life easier when you are writing your research paper). YOU MUST DOCUMENT YOUR SOURCES ACCURATELY - we are using MLA style. Here are two beneficial websites with information you can use: and Use a 3x5" index card for each source. Make sure you label the card with number "1," "2," "3," etc. and mark the copy of the article with the exact same number so you do not get them confused. (TEACHERS: See attachment, "Sample of a source card," for an example.)

    4.)LABEL NOTECARDS AND TAKE RELEVANT NOTES from your articles. You will want to keep your outline close at hand - label outline reference letters and numbers in your article and write relevant information and page number on the proper notecard. Double check that notes from source 1 go on notecard 1 ... accuracy measures the strength of your research. After taking your notes, rearrange your notecards and outline if you feel the information flows more smoothly.

    5.)WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFT. It is much easier if you document your source article and page number in your rough draft when you introduce the information that you have discovered in your research, i.e., (Canfield and Hansen, 77).

    6.)REVIEW, EDIT, and REVISE your research paper. Add your introductory paragraph and concluding paragraph. Have a peer reader (or close teacher) who is an excellent proofreader read and suggest edits - this is the paper you want read for quality and clarity. (STUDENTS: I WANT TO STRESS TO YOU TO CORRECT ALL MISTAKES IDENTIFIED IN THIS STEP WHEN YOU BEGIN TYPING.)

    7.)TYPE YOUR PAPER. You will need to follow the guidelines as to margins, content of the title page, career or outline typed on outline page, pagination numerals, and guidelines for the first page of your text. Basically, you should use 1" margins, 1 space after punctuation, and double space your paragraphs (except for blocked quotations). Find a sample of an excellent research paper so you can examine the overall "look and feel." Add your parenthetical documentation while you are typing. AGAIN, STRESS PERFECTION. USE SPELLING AND GRAMMAR CHECKER. IN YOUR FINAL SEARCH, START AT LAST PAGE AND LAST WORD AND WORK BACKWARDS THROUGH PAPER TO LOCATE ANY SNEAKY MISTAKES.

    8.)GOOD WRITING TAKES TIME. Let your paper "incubate" - then review your articles, your notecards, and your typed paper. ADD, EDIT, REVIEW, REVISE as needed. Have a proofreader check it again for accuracy and clarity. Ask them to write any questions on your paper. This is your final check for richness of language in your vocabulary choice. In addition, check your paragraphs for transition words to help your writing flow smoothly.

    9.)ASSEMBLE YOUR PAPER IN THE FINAL FORMAT REQUESTED BY THE TEACHER. Generally, you will include a title page, your outline, your research paper, "References Cited" or bibliography page, and appendices if needed. Copies of articles used should be placed in the Appendix. You may want to add two sheets of blank paper to the end of the research paper. Comments may be added throughout the paper or on these last pages.

    10.)PRESENT YOUR PAPER. Show and explain your career paper to your parents and friends before submitting it for final grading. If presenting to the class, see if you can add a visual aid, such as dressing in clothing associated with that career. You might re-search your articles to discover a graph or chart that might be effective in your presentation, such as the number of those employed today versus the predicted future shortage or surplus.

    **Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

    Assessment Strategies

    Product and Process: Rubric for Grading Research Paper (see attachment). Each process step will be graded including personal inventory and declaration of career; outline and thesis statement; copy of articles; source card documentation; note cards; first draft; typed draft; proofreading and edited revisions; parenthetical documentation; title page, outline, paper, works cited, and appendix; manuscript formatting; and presentation to class.


    Independent and Gifted Learners: The design is intended for asynchronous learning. Independent researchers can complete research assignment, substitute primary sources, or conduct a review of the literature appraising current questions in the field. Students may then follow up with independent projects, such as interviews, job shadowing, service learning, experiments, or field experiments.


    Remediation: students who need extra assistance may benefit from 1) guidance counselor assessing and discussing interest/skills indicators; 2) teacher providing detailed descriptions of steps and one-on-one assistance to students for completion; 3) media specialist giving extra assistance in providing career books, magazines, encyclopedias, and Internet access; and 4) technology/computer/business teacher collaborating to provide access to computers and individual assistance with word processing features, especially spelling and grammar checking, as well as using thesaurus.

    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.