Learning Goals & Assessment

For the capstone course, Educ 400: Senior Research Seminar, all Educational Studies majors design, conduct, and present an independent research project on a topic of interest, using primary and secondary sources, with qualitative, quantitative, and/or historical methods. To assess the quality of the public research presentation, the student and the seminar instructor mutually select a guest evaluator, an appropriate individual who may have expert knowledge of the topic or previously worked with the student (though not on this particular project), preferably from outside the Educational Studies faculty. A few days after the presentation, the student submits the final research paper, which is evaluated by the instructor. To share this body of knowledge with the public, Educational Studies seniors have the option to upload their final research papers and/or presentations to the Trinity Library Digital Repository.

The criteria below represent our student learning goals and express our common vocabulary for evaluating the quality of student research projects across the multiple research traditions that influence our interdisciplinary program. Follow this link to the senior research presentation guest evaluation form.

1) The student poses a thought-provoking, researchable question (or hypothesis) and explains its significance to educational studies.

2) The student connects the question to the existing research literature (secondary sources) and moves beyond into new territory.

3) The student identifies and uses the most appropriate primary sources and research methods for his or her study.

4) The student presents a clear and insightful thesis that directly addresses the research question (or hypothesis).

5) The student’s thesis is persuasive: supported with convincing evidence and analysis.

6) The student’s paper/presentation is well-organized, and includes sufficient background for audiences unfamiliar with the topic.

7) The student cites sources in an acceptable format so that future readers may easily locate them. [Relevant for the final paper, not the presentation.]

8) The student follows ethical guidelines for research.

The Educational Studies Program prepares students to meet these learning goals in several ways:

• All students are introduced to an abbreviated version of the criteria above when proposing and writing their research papers in Educ 300: Education Reform, Past & Present, a core requirement prior to enrolling in the senior research seminar.

• All students must satisfactorily complete a research methods course (offered by other departments at Trinity) as well as a research project course, where they gain first-hand experience in designing, conducting, and writing about primary and secondary source research as part of a group project, prior to enrolling in the senior research seminar.

• All students must submit a brief research proposal, their Junior Plan, in the spring semester prior to pre-registration in the senior seminar, so that Educational Studies faculty may give feedback about revising their proposal, particularly on articulating a clear and insightful research question, prior to the beginning of the senior seminar.

• During the early weeks of the senior seminar, students write and revise their independent research proposals, emphasizing their research questions, secondary literature reviews, sources and methods, and ethical standards, to address the initial stages of the criteria above.

To continually improve the quality of student learning, Educational Studies faculty regularly attend several of the public research presentations, share access to individual evaluations, and meet to adjust the curriculum as necessary.