research proposal 101
The final requirement for the course is a research or “practice” proposal due Dec. 10, 11:59 pm.
The main goal of the proposal is to enable you to use your practicum observations in the creation of a scholarly project which draws upon the conceptual framework developed during your practicum experience. We are asking for a proposal: often the first step in a rigorous process of field-based research.
The proposal should include a research question of your choice, based on the literature you’ve gathered, and the evidence and information that you have recorded in your critical reflections during your practicum experience. You may also choose to propose a “practice” to be incorporated at your research site – for example a curriculum, policy, or program of some kind, but similar to the research question, it must be empirically based. In other words, it must be justified and draw from your observations and experience in the practicum site and the literature you’ve gathered (not just a “good idea”).
You may choose to work individually or work collaboratively in your research team.
If you work collaboratively this means discussing and jointly deciding upon a broad research question. You might then have a few other sub-questions. What can you learn by looking across the “case studies” of your different sites? What can you gain from each of them individually?
If you choose to work alone, that is an option too but we highly encourage the experience of working in a research team.
Please use the following structure:
1.Research question: You can draw from the model suggested by Booth, Colomb & Williams (below), or you can elaborate upon it.
- State your research question clearly and precisely.
- Then state why you think it’s a problem worth researching.
- Describe why your research context or setting is a good place to pursue this research, drawing on your observations and reflections.
- Brief explanation of your conceptual framework: Elaborate on your research question and problem by using the literature you’ve gathered throughout the semester, or course readings that are relevant. You’ll also draw from your own observations from critical reflections. Provide sufficient background, drawing on materials in the readings and topics covered in class. As we’ve discussed, you’re using this material to build a compelling argument for the relevance of your research question to your practicum site. Cite the readings that you use, using a consistent citation style (see below for examples). We strongly encourage you to include the map of your conceptual framework here – it can be a powerful visual tool to show the relationships between the literatures you’re engaging with.
- Proposed research and methodology: Discuss the kind of research you are proposing, again drawing from your critical reflections. Describe the research setting, the research subjects (teachers? students? particular students?), and the specific kinds of activities that you think are important for your research. Discuss how you will collect information to address your proposed research question. Where, when, and with whom will you collect your data? Will you continue doing participant observation? Will you propose doing interviews, group discussions/ focus groups, surveys, or reviewing historical or school policy documents – or some other method? Explain why you’re making these choices. There is no right or wrong methodology, but you’ll need to justify your choices. Think of this as the “dream” research project you’d propose! If you propose a policy or program, you’ll describe how it should be implemented.
4.Conclusion: Wrap up your proposal with a restatement of your research question and how you will study it. Make sure you answer the question, “so what?” That is, finish by writing about the significance of your proposed research. This can be brief – 2-3 sentences.
Be creative and keep it clear – Give your proposal an interesting title and support your argument with evidence or illustrations from some of your critical reflections. You may also use diagrams and drawings, or other artifacts from your site (please check with the teaching team if you’re unclear on ethical questions of what you might include).
Length: 3-4 written pages. You may use up to 5 pages but not more, for a collaborative project (4 pages maximum for an individual project). The ability to write clearly and concisely, and to choose your words is an important skill of research proposals. If you avoid fillers and stick to what directly contributes to your argument, you’ll have plenty of space. In other words, don’t pad your proposal with extra text that is not relevant.
12 point font
Name and page number on each page
If you would like to create a multimedia proposal, you may incorporate images, audio, text, or video footage or other media. Note: this does not mean filming people (especially minors) unless you are certain you have permission/ waivers from them; you could use images of the classroom or setting, or other open access/ stock images. It should clearly demonstrate all elements that would be in a written proposal (that you rehearse and explain on video/ audio, or a combination of text with audio/video). A multimedia proposal does not mean just a power point slideshow. These should be about 6-7 minutes long.
Literature and Citations:
Please cite a minimum of 3 scholarly references in your proposal. This is the case for individual or group projects.
In-text citations are standard in academic writing and are required for this assignment.
Please use the following model: (Authorlastname, year of publication). Include the page number if you’re using a direct quote. In a multi-media proposal, you should mention the author(s) of any reference you quote or paraphrase.
For citations of critical reflections, use this model: (Lastname, crit. refl.
REMEMBER: Plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course.
A very useful rule for citing others’ work is: When in doubt, cite! If you are not clear
about what plagiarism is, be sure to ask the teaching team.
We encourage you to use sources you found through your literature review. If you are still looking for additional references, here’s the site Margaret Phillips created especially for Ed144!
The final part of your research proposal should be a “References” page.Be sure that allmaterials you cite in your paper are listed on this page.It is customary to list entries alphabetically by author (and by date if you have more than one reference per author). Examples:
Emerson, Robert (2001). “Four Ways to Improve the Craft of Fieldwork.” In Ethnography, Volume II. Sage Publications, London. pp. 35-49.
Thorne, Barrie (2001). “Learning from Kids.” Contemporary Field Research Perspectives and Formulations. Waveland Press, Prospect Heights. pp. 224-237.
This is APA format but you may also use a format preferred by your discipline as long as you use it consistently.
Similar to your critical reflections, please use pseudonyms instead of the real names of the students or other practicum participants you may mention in your examples in order to protect their privacy. This is important for research ethics as we have discussed in class.
Your final project is graded on a 20-point scale. It must be posted by Dec. 10, 11:59 pm. Late papers will not be accepted. Your grade will be based on each of the components listed in the structure above, as well as the following:
- how convincing and original your research proposal is,
- how well your observations and the literature support your suggestions for further research (or a policy/program),
- use of academic language, proofreading, editing (no typos or grammatical errors),
- proper citations/ references,
- how closely you follow the guidelines, i.e., fulfill each of the sections of the proposal.
Be sure to incorporate your own observations into your paper. Make sure the observations and information you use to support your research question and conclusions are precise and coherent. Make sure your paper is well organized and that your arguments are supported by existing evidence. Your paper should show clear thinking and creativity in making connections between ideas you’ve found in the readings and your observations at the field site.
If you have any questions or need help, please contact the GSI or instructor. Good luck!
Crafting a research question
Booth, Colomb & Williams (2008) suggest the following three-step formula for articulating your research question:
- Topic: I am studying _____________
- Question: because I want to find out what/why/how ______________
- Significance: in order to help my reader understand _______________.
As you move from your topic to your question, make sure that you move beyond being a data collector to being a researcher, focused on something that is specific but with general implications or significance (Bloom, Colomb & Williams, 2008, p. 51).
- I am studying the educational use of digital media in an after school setting
- Because I want to find how they learn to read the word while learning to “read the world,”
- In order to help my readers/ intended audience understand how educators can best use digital tools to develop 5th grade students’ literacies.
- I am studying English language learning in the cultural context of a program for Latinx immigrants
- Because I want to find out what specific pedagogical approaches work best,
- In order to help my audience understand how to engage language learners in meaningful experiences that integrate language and culture.
Booth, W., Colomb, G. & Williams, J. (2008). The Craft of Research, Third Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Questions that I created:
- 1.I am studying how students approach the subject of statistics
- 2.because I want to find out how students can learn statistics in a more efficient way.
- 3.I am studying what is the best method to learn the subject of statics.
- 4.In order to find out what is the best suitable way for college students to engage in their statistic’s class and eventually transfer to a four-year university.
- 5.I am studying how students who are not English speakers learn the subject of statistics.
- 6.In order to help my audience, understand how educators can incorporate different activities for non-English speakers.
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