Different Perspectives

Time required: Variable depending on format

Grading: Not required (but feedback may be helpful)

Disciplines: Any (but especially useful for research & writing) 

Why: Encouraging students to brainstorm and explore topics from different perspectives prior to research, writing or discussion requires them to think critically and expand their point of view.


Have your students explore their topic from three different perspectives. 

  • Describe
    • Describe your subject in detail. Include components, interesting features and detail
  • Trace
    • What is the history of your subject? How has changed?
  • Map
    • What is your subject related to? What disciplines are related?

After exploring different perspectives, ask students to look for interesting relationships or mismatches.


  • You can select one question that is particularly relevant.
  • You can ask students to provide answers in a range of forms from informal notes to a more structured assignment.
  • The activity can be adapted as an anticipation set for a new topic or discussion (either online or face to face)
  • It can also be adapted as an assessment.

Adapted from The Writing Center – University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill