Strategies for Online Academic Research

The goal of Project Stepping Up to SOAR (S-SOAR) is to teach all students, including students with learning difficulties (SWLD), how to conduct efficient and effective online research using the nine Strategies for Online Academic Research (SOAR).

With the strategies, students create appropriate online search questions, evaluate website authenticity and bias, read effectively online, record and organize notes in an outline, make citations, and think critically about the information they gather from the Internet.

The strategies are:

  1. Starting a Web search
  2. Improving a Web search
  3. Choosing three good sites to open
  4. Weighing a website
  5. Finding information in a website
  6. Reading online
  7. Recording notes
  8. Creating categories
  9. Combining notes in an outline

Teachers can use the project’s free professional development resources to learn how to incorporate these strategies in their classrooms.

After students learn the strategies, they apply the strategies to their own research projects.

Student Toolkit

Students learn the nine strategies through a free instructional website called the Student Toolkit.

The Student Toolkit  breaks down each strategy into two or three steps. With text and video instruction, students learn and practice each step. Students quiz themselves at each step by answering practice questions, which provide immediate feedback.

At the end of each strategy, students apply what they have learned in a real online environment, and then receive summative feedback from their teachers.

Benefits for Students

SOAR helps students do online research

Students who learn the strategies benefit by becoming more proficient in conducting online research.

The strategies are aligned with the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, benefitting students by helping them meet these standards.

The strategies promote digital literacy skills that prepare students for success in college and future careers.

Here’s what students have to say about SOAR:

  • “I had a lot of fun with SOAR because it helped me learn how to research.”
  • “SOAR makes writing papers easier.”
  • “It definitely improved my researching skills.”
  • “I will use it throughout my years of school and research projects.”

Resources for Students with Learning Difficulties (SWLD)

The strategies are meant for all students, but especially support SWLD:

  • The Student Toolkit website design is simple, engaging, and easy to navigate. It is interesting, but not overstimulating.
  • The step-by-step approach of teaching the strategies allows SWLD to process each step before moving on.
SOAR supports students who struggle

Professional Development for Teachers

With S-SOAR’s professional development resources, teachers learn how to incorporate the strategies in their classrooms and curricula.

Teachers prepare with an online course

Professional development is provided through online modules.

Teachers can find training materials and resources anytime through the project’s free Teacher Professional Development online course and teacher forum. Here, social-networking features also allow teachers to connect with each other, and share and receive materials.

Get Started

Teachers are encouraged to participate in Project S-SOAR research, and to use the free online Student Toolkit  and Teacher Professional Development course.

The project is actively recruiting for a current study. Research participants receive additional benefits, including:

  • Access to technology resources
  • Stipends to purchase classroom technology or supplies
  • Project staff support during implementation
  • Paid substitutes for training days
  • Reports on pretest-posttest growth for their students

Click here to view requirements for the study.

To learn more about the project and receive log-in access register here, or for more information about being part of a research study, contact principal investigator Dr. Fatima Terrazas-Arellanes (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; telephone: 541-346-3798).

Register to receive free log-in access