Research Paper Topics for Secondary Students

Now that it is research paper season, it is time to decide what topic to assign to your middle or high school students. I firmly believe in choosing a broad umbrella topic and allowing your students to each select their own specific topic. Providing students with the opportunity to choose what they research enhances student buy-in and interest.

Here is a quick list of possible research paper topics for high school and middle school.

Social Problems Currently Affecting our Society
For this research topic, students are free to choose any social problem that our society is currently dealing with. This can include almost anything from global warming to childhood hunger to antibiotic resistance. This is a high-interest topic for high school students because they get to read about and research a topic that is interesting to them. Please note this topic can also get a little controversial, so it's best to require teacher approval for topics.

As educators, we prepare students for college and career readiness. Why not combine your academic lesson with something students can directly apply to their lives?  Have students select a possible career path that interests them and research it. The research assignment can ask students to research anything from how to get hired, to the salary, to the qualifications.

Influential People
Select any time period of your choice and have students select one influential person from that time period. The earlier the time period you select, the most historical the research assignment will become. This assignment also works great as a cross curricular assignment with fellow social science teachers. You can easily work with the social science teachers in your grade level to determine what time period the students are currently learning about. Connect that time period to your research project and your students will get to see the value of learning across multiple classes.

Research paper topics for high school students

Technologies of the Future
With such an emphasis placed on STEM subjects, this is a great way to tie in the English language arts with the sciences. Encourage your students to research about up and coming technologies that will forever change the way we live, do business, and conduct health care in our country.

This research topic is included in my Research Paper Writing lesson. For this topic, I asked students to research and select one invention that has greatly impacted our lives today. Students are able to choose any invention of their choice, as long as it was invented before 1950. This is a fun research topic because it forces students to think outside of smart phones, smart watches, and smart TVs.

Research paper writing and research paper topics for high school students.
To see more about my Research Paper Writing Unit, visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. This unit includes an editable PowerPoint presentation and all of the resources you will need to take your students step-by-step through the writing process.

If you are interested in how I introduce research paper writing to my students, check out the first blog post in this series: Part 1: Introducing Research Writing and the Assignment.


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