To: Educational Studies rising seniors intending to enroll in Ed 400 next year
From: Ed Studies Program
Date: March 26, 2012
Re: Ed 400 Research Plans due April 9th
As you know, the Educational Studies major requires each student to design and conduct a one-semester independent research project, in Educ 400 Senior Research Seminar (which meets Mondays 1:15-3:55pm in Fall 2012). Your project may investigate any topic related to educational studies, but it must focus on an original researchable question using primary sources and appropriate research methods. For example, you could answer a question using:
- qualitative research, such as interviewing or ethnography (where the interview transcripts and/or detailed field notes serve as primary sources)
- quantitative research, such as analyzing a dataset (the primary source), which you could construct on your own (via surveys, etc.) or obtain from another source (such as an educational or governmental agency)
- historical research, such as analyzing change & continuity over time through archival documents, periodicals, visual images, oral histories, etc.
- or any combination of the three
In order to receive permission (a PIN code) to enroll in Ed 400, each student must email a 1-page research plan to the instructor (email@example.com) by April 9th at noon for approval by the Educational Studies faculty. Your plan must address these questions:
- What is your proposed research question, and how is it significant to educational studies, broadly defined?
- What primary sources and methods will you use to answer this research question?
- Describe any prior courses, experiences, or specific readings you have done regarding this topic. Also, if you expect that your project will involve a community partner, such as a local school or organization, describe any arrangements you have already made or intend to make. (It is recommended to secure access to a research site prior to the start of the fall semester.)
Feel free to make an appointment with Ed Studies faculty to discuss your ideas, and consider this friendly advice to help you share your research plans:
- Think about research questions that truly interest you (and perhaps also may be meaningful for a community partner, if you choose to work with one). Build on research you have done for previous courses, if appropriate. We encourage you to speak with Ed Studies faculty, current Ed Studies seniors, classmates, community partners, Social Science Data Coordinator Rachael Barlow, or Librarian Katy Hart to refine your plans. Think outside of the box.
- Be sure to design a “researchable” question, meaning one that can be answered using qualitative, quantitative, and/or historical methods during a one-semester project. If you’ve never had a course on using a particular research method, it may be unwise to propose it for your senior research project.
- An “independent” project means that you are primary responsible for its design and analysis, but it doesn’t mean that you need to work alone. For example, Jesse Wanzer ’08 and Heather Moore ’08 coordinated their research on magnet schools. One used quantitative methods, while the other used qualitative, and they explored different aspects of the same process.
- You may consider pairing your senior research project with an internship, if appropriate. You would need to ask your Ed 400 instructor to sponsor the internship, draw up a contract of additional readings and writing assignments (separate from the research project), and complete the necessary forms from the Internship Office. All of these arrangements must be completed before the semester begins.
- Talk to current seniors about their research projects and how they came up with them.
- See previous examples of Ed Studies senior research projects in the Trinity College Digital Repository
- If you’re currently enrolled in Educ 300, Educ 307, or another course with a research paper requirement, consider focusing it on a topic broadly related to senior-year research project, to help build your background in secondary sources.
- Consider applying for a Community Learning Research Fellowship, a Levy Research Grant for Urban Studies, and/or a Grossman Research Grant for Global Studies for additional support and funding for your research project.