Educ 400: Senior Research Seminar

Syllabus for Fall 2016, NOT updated from WordPress

Syllabus for Fall 2016 Mondays, 1:10-3:50pm in McCook 302 Prof. Jack Dougherty - contact me or book appointment Educational Studies Program at Trinity College, Hartford CT Any major changes to this online syllabus will appear in red

Jump to: CriteriaGDocs Organizer (password-protected) Jump to: SeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

Course Description: To fulfill the senior exercise requirement, students carry out an independent research project that builds upon acquired skills and evolving interests. The weekly seminar provides a thematic focus as well as a continuous forum for both support and critical feedback from peers, in preparation for a public presentation of the student’s work at the end of the semester. To enroll, students must have completed all core course requirements in the major, and submit a Junior Research Plan that has been approved by the Educational Studies faculty.

Research Project Criteria: 

In this capstone seminar, 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. The criteria below represent our student learning goals and express our common vocabulary for evaluating the quality of research projects across the multiple research traditions that influence our interdisciplinary program.

1) Does the author pose a thought-provoking, researchable question (or hypothesis) and explain its significance to educational studies?

2) Does the author connect the question to the existing research literature (secondary sources) and move beyond into new territory?

3) Does the author identify and use the most appropriate primary sources and research methods for this study?

4) Does the author present a clear and insightful thesis that directly addresses the research question (or hypothesis)?

5) Is the author’s thesis persuasive, and supported with convincing evidence and analysis?

6) Is the author’s essay/presentation well-organized, and does it include sufficient background for audiences unfamiliar with the topic?

7) Does the author cite sources in an acceptable format so that future readers may easily locate them? [Relevant for the final paper, not the presentation.]

8) Does the author follow ethical guidelines for research?

How to succeed in this seminar:

  • Bookmark this online syllabus and check it often for updates (marked in red).
  • Keep a calendar—paper or digital—to manage your time and meet deadlines.
  • Attend each class on time, bring relevant readings and notes, and participate regularly in discussions. The goal is to improve education for all, not you alone. At the end of the semester, your peers will evaluate your overall contribution to learning in the seminar.
  • Take the initiative by asking questions. If you don’t understand something, other students probably are puzzled, too. Go ahead and ask.
  • In this seminar, students must bring a computer for in-class writing and online research, but use it wisely. Focus on learning and avoid distractions.
  • Talk about what you are learning outside of class, both with your peers and the professor. Email me any quick questions, or book an appointment for longer discussions.
  • Everyone—including your instructor—learns to improve our writing by sharing drafts, receiving reader feedback, and revising our prose. Make the most of peer editing opportunities and the Writing Center.
  • If you're concerned about a grade on an assignment, schedule an appointment to talk with me. Afterwards, if you wish to challenge a grade, write out a persuasive argument with supporting evidence.
  • If an illness or emergency interferes with attending class, email me immediately and make arrangements to catch up on missing work.

How your work will be evaluated, with individual scores on Moodle:

  • Exercises (Progress Memos, Drafts, Peer Reviews) for 2 points each x 15 = 30
  • Proposal presentation (evaluated by guest) = 5
  • Proposal full draft (evaluated by instructor) = 5
  • Preliminary data analysis presentation (evaluated by guest) = 5
  • Preliminary data analysis full draft (evaluated by instructor) = 5
  • Final presentation: guest evaluator selected by student with instructor, and evaluation by Ed Studies faculty (10 + 10 = 20)
  • Contribution to overall learning in the seminar (evaluated by peers) = 10
  • Final draft (evaluated by instructor, based on how the author has responded to feedback received during the semester and at the presentation) = 20

Total = 100 points

In this course, unsatisfactory work (below 70%) falls in the D or F range, adequate work (70-79%) in the C range, good work (80-89%) in the B range, and outstanding work (90 to 100%) in the A range. Each range is divided into equal thirds for minus (-), regular, and plus (+) letter grades. For example, 80 to 83.33% = B-, 83.34 to 86.67 = B, and 86.68 to 89.99 = B+. Students may access their individual scores on the password-protected Moodle site.

When a deadline says “Sept 12th” it means due before our seminar begins, unless stated otherwise. Exercises (worth 2 points) will be granted 1 point if poor quality or late (but submitted the same day), and 0 points if not submitted that day. Overdue major assignments will be penalized 10% for every 12-hour period beyond the deadline, with exceptions granted only for documented medical or family emergencies. A Google Doc that is not properly shared (so that anyone with the link may comment) will be considered late. Notify your instructor during add/drop week if you require any special accommodations (for religious observances, learning disabilities, etc.).

Schedule for Fall 2016:

Sept 12
  • Before seminar, read chapter 5 and focus on "Types of Research Questions," in Richard Shavelson and Lisa Towne, eds., Scientific Research in Education (Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2002),
  • Introduction to seminar, evaluation critiera, strategies to help you succeed, and schedule outline:
    • September: Proposal, ethics, and data access
    • October: Data collection and analysis
    • November: Drafting and revising
    • December: Public presentation and final edits
  • In seminar: Share your updated research plan with seminar only in our GDocs Organizer
  • Recommended tutorial: How to Co-Author and Peer Edit with Google Docs
  • Test if your GDoc is properly shared by checking on a different browser (not logged into your Google Drive account)
  • In seminar: What type of research question are you asking?
    • Descriptive—What is happening?
    • Causal—Is there a systematic effect?
    • Process—Why or how is it happening?
    • combination of two or more
  • In seminar: What research methods and types of primary sources will you use to answer your question?
    • Qualitative (observation, interview, etc.)
    • Quantitative (statistical or spatial patterns)
    • Historical (archival sources, etc.)
    • combination of two or more
  • In seminar: Does your research require approval by Trinity Institutional Review Board (IRB)?
  • Website:
    • Decision Tree
    • Learning Tools - let's try and improve DRAFT examples
    • Ethics training
    • Assign: If your project requires IRB approval, share your draft IRB application (in PDF format) and any supplementary materials (interview questions, consent forms, etc. in Google Doc format, and allow comments), and share on our GDoc Organizer by end of Friday Sept 16th
    • Assign: If your research does not require IRB approval, write a justification and share on our GDoc Organizer by Sept 16th
  • Assign Progress Memo in our GDoc organizer before seminar
    • What is your current research question?
    • What steps (big or small) did you take toward answering this question last week?
    • What obstacles, if any, stand in your way?
    • What are most important items on this week's to-do list?
  • Assign: Read any senior research project in the Ed Studies section of the Trinity Digital Repository
  • Assign: Watch video of any senior research project public presentation
  • Recommend date for Ed Studies senior dinner in April 2017 (Cara)
  • Recommend date for optional informal seminar dinner at Jack's house: Thu Sept 15, Sat Sept 17, Sun Sept 18, or Mon Sept 19, for any hour between 6-8pm

Sept 19 

  • Remember to upload your IRB materials and Progress Report to GDoc Organizer
  • In-seminar: Write a one-paragraph pitch of your research plan in our GDoc Organizer
    • Explain your research question and its significance
    • Describe what kind of data you will collect and analyze to answer this question
  • From 1:30-2:15pm: Deliver 1-2 minute oral presentations of your research projects in Google Hangout video conference with Samantha Alcala '11, MA candidate in Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia Univ
    • Listen to Samantha's feedback to improve your pitch and focus
  • Before seminar: Read Samantha's grad school application letter 
  • Presentation: Identify most appropriate methods to answer RQ
  • In seminar: Meet Trinity IRB Standards or Justify Otherwise
  • Review your Progress Memos on GDoc Organizer, with constructive feedback from seminar

Sept 26

  • Choose date for informal dinner at Jack's house:
    • Thur Oct 6th from 6:30-7:30pm OR
    • Wed Oct 12th from 6:30-7:30pm
  • Upcoming events: "Money Matters" Thur Sept 29th Common Hour in Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall; "Pathways to Teaching" with current Trinity students and recent alumni, Wed Oct 5th in Rittenberg Lounge, Mather Hall
  • Quick review of 15 pages of comments on IRB drafts via GDoc Organizer
  • How to design an interview guide (see my FYSM sample)
  • How to digitally record and transcribe interviews (your advice on updating this?)
  • Review your Progress Memos on GDoc Organizer, with constructive feedback from seminar
  • Assign Research Proposals, due Sunday Oct 2nd at 1pm (24 hours before seminar) on GDoc Organizer, which you will deliver as a 3-minute presentation (using your GDoc, not slides) to guest evaluator Jamie McPike, Associate Director of Community Learning
  • Assign peer reviewers via our GDoc Organizer to comment on proposals before seminar

Oct 3

Oct 10 - Trinity Days

  • Progress memos due on GDoc Organizer, no seminar meeting
  • Work on data collection (if IRB approved or not required)
  • Work on literature review

Oct 17

  • Literature Review essays due on Sun Oct 16th at 1pm on GDoc Organizer, with assigned peer reviews due before seminar
  • Continue work on data collection
  • Assign: Revised Proposal + Preliminary Data essay, due on Sun Oct 23rd at 1pm (day before seminar) on GDoc Organizer, with assigned peer reviews before seminar. Prepare a 5 minute oral presentation for guest evaluator Mira Debs, Yale University.
  • Review your Progress Memos on GDoc Organizer, with constructive feedback from seminar
  • Senior Advising: set meeting with me (or for double-majors, another official advisor) to review all of your graduation requirements and sign your degree application, due to the Registrar by Nov 4th

Oct 24

Oct 31
  • Book an individual appointment with your instructor (for a time before or during our regular meeting time) to review progress and invite guest evaluator.

Nov 7

  • Thesis and Evidence essays by DG, CM due 24 hours before seminar, with reviews by DC, MH on GDoc Organizer
  • Presentation Slides first draft by MJ, JG, EP on GDoc Presentations
  • Assign: Full Draft due Sunday Nov 27th at 12 noon (end of Thanksgiving break; day before seminar) and peer reviewers

Nov 14

  • Thesis and Evidence essays by DC, MH due 24 hours before seminar, with reviews by JG, EP, DG
  • Presentation Slides first draft by DG, CM on GDoc Presentations

Nov 21

  • Thesis and Evidence essays by JG, EP, MJ due 24 hours before seminar (or sooner) with reviews by CM, MJ, Jack
  • Presentation Slides first draft by DC, MH on GDoc Presentations
  • Reminder: full draft of research essay due Sun Nov 27th at 12 noon (or earlier) on GDoc Organizer, and paste these evaluation criteria to the top of your essay
  • Assign peer reviewers to each full draft, with comments due before seminar on Nov 28th

Nov 28

 Dec 5

Dec 12

  • No seminar meeting -- prepare your presentations and final drafts

Wed Dec 14th, schedule TBA between 12-4pm 

  • Presentation schedule: Each student will receive a 30 minute slot, for 10-15 minute presentation, followed by Q&A

Fri Dec 16th at 6pm

  • Final drafts due on GDoc Presentations
  • All students are encouraged to upload their final draft and presentation slides (as PDFs) to the Trinity Digital Repository, after receiving final comments on this assignment by the instructor. Requirement for students pursuing Honors.