Student Research Projects
The research process that students participated in looked like this:
Summer work prior to Senior Year:
Students were asked to think about an issue that concerned them in their community, and to devise a possible project to address it. They were also instructed to bring in a list of resources that might help them begin the research process in the fall. Lastly, students were asked to think about how their ten-week internship placement during their senior year (a part of our school’s model) could align with their research project. While the initial project ideas developed during this time were flimsy, the goal was to get students to think with the end in mind, and for teachers working with them to have an idea of what drove the student’s interest.
Research Paper Process:
Brainstorming, one-on-one and group discussions, data collections and interviews, data crunching, outlining, rough drafts of papers. This was the “meat” of the project. Most students took quite a bit of time developing a research question. Many were frustrated initially because they expected to have a question right away, not realizing that they had to look at their interest, read, summarize, read some more and crunch. I spent 2 out of 5 weekdays conducting one-on-ones with students, and agreed to print research articles that they found on Google Scholar but couldn’t access during this time. I also spent much of this time asking questions to help guide students through their work and to affirm them, as there were many points where they became frustrated, confused, and might speak up, “I don’t care about this anymore,” or “I don’t get it, I don’t get what I’m tryin to say”, or “I can’t find what I’m lookin for!” It was important to keep a positive culture in each classroom during this process so that it didn’t crumble, and building personal relationships with each student through these conferences seemed to achieve that purpose.
I handed out packets that required them to summarize articles, document important data or quotes, offer conclusions, and include citation information. This is what students worked on during conferences and at home. Once students collected all necessary info, they were asked to find trends btwn data, and gradually moved to constructing a research paper. Revision and editing time were built into this as well.
Students submitted project proposals, which included rationale based upon their research as well as a detailed plan and timeline that communicated how and when they were going to fully implement their project.When teams of teachers approved their projects, they could proceed with their work and carry out the necessary steps required for completion. Students finished projects and wrote reflections, sharing their work with their peers and community members who helped them develop their projects.