Educ 400: Senior Research Seminar

Syllabus for Fall 2017

Mondays 1:15-3:55pm 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) *

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 full draft = 10 (co-evaluated by instructor and guest)
  • Preliminary data analysis  = 10 (co-evaluated by instructor and guest)
  • 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 18th” 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 2017

Mon Sept 11

  • Please fill out quick student info form
  • Introduction to seminar, evaluation criteria, 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, 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),
  • Share your current or updated research plan with seminar only in our GDocs Organizer
  • In seminar: Share your current research plan from our GDocs Organizer
  • In seminar: What type of research question is the author 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)?
  • Current website:
  • Assign IRB draft or Justification, due before seminar on Mon Sept 18th
  • If your project requires IRB approval, make a copy of the IRB template, fill out all required portions, and share the link on our GDoc Organizer
    • If your project does not require IRB approval, write a justification that explains why, describe your primary source research methods in detail, and share on our GDoc Organizer
  • Assign Progress Memo 1 in our GDoc organizer due before next 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?
  • 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)
  • Recommended: 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

Mon Sept 18

Mon Sept 25

  • Intro to new Trinity IRB online process
    • All students doing research involving living human subjects must start the form and answer introductory questions. Based on your answers, some will be required to fill out the complete form.
    • If you must fill out the complete form, notify me when your full IRB template is ready in our GDoc Organizer and ask me to review BEFORE you press SUBMIT button
  • How to design an interview guide?
  • The Debs-Dougherty Rules of Qualitative Interviewing 
    • Design interview questions to obtain responses that you can analyze to answer your research question.
    • Ask open-ended questions that encourage participants to tell their stories
    • Listen attentively as participants respond and avoid interrupting, unless they go way off track and you need to bring them back.
    • Follow up with prompts (“Tell me more about….”) as needed to focus their responses or delve deeper.
  • What do different interview guides teach us?
  • How to digitally record and transcribe interviews (updated)
  • Reminder: If you plan to conduct interviews, you must include an interview guide in your research proposal and your IRB application (if required)
  • Each peer reviewer must present and comment on a draft proposal on GDoc Organizer 
  • Assign: Revise your research proposals on GDoc Organizer by Sun Oct 1st at 12 noon. No peer reviews required

Mon Oct 2

  • Due on Sun Oct 1st at noon: Revised research proposals on GDoc Organizer
  • Due before seminar: Progress Memo 3 on GDoc Organizer
  • Assign Literature review essays, due by Sun Oct 15th at noon on GDoc Organizer, and assign peer reviewers, due before seminar on Oct 16th
  • Planning your literature search and writing strategy: 
  • In seminar: deliver 3-minute research proposal (showing Google Doc, not slides) to a guest evaluator who is not an expert in your topic, and provide sufficient background for them to understand your research process.
  • Guest Evaluators:
    • 2:15pm David Tatem, Instructional Technologist (for Jenn)
    • 2:35pm Megan Hartline, Associate Director of Community Learning (for Briana, Giselle, Nicole, Hannah, A’Kala, Olivia)

Mon Oct 9 - Trinity Day (no class)

  • Due instead of seminar: Progress Memo 4 on GDoc Organizer
  • Work on data collection (if IRB approved or not required)

Mon Oct 16th

  • Due on Sunday Oct 15th at noon: Literature Review essays
  • Due before seminar: Peer reviews of Literature Review; Progress Memo 5
  • In seminar: October is “data collection month”; review all deadlines to come
  • Assign: Revised Proposal + Preliminary Data essay, first draft for peer comments due on Sunday October 22nd at 12 noon on GDoc Organizer.  Prepare a final draft with 5-minute oral presentation (worth 10 points overall) for guest evaluator Megan Brown, tentatively scheduled for Monday Oct 30th in seminar.
  • Write in your working title and December guest evaluator nominations on GDoc Presentations  and review individually with instructor in last half-hour of class
  • In seminar: discuss your peer evaluations of lit reviews on GDoc Organizer.

Mon Oct 23

Mon Oct 30

    • Prepare 5-minute oral presentation from final draft of Revised Proposal + Preliminary Data draft for guest evaluator Prof. Megan Brown (worth 5 points) and instructor (5 points)
    • Lineup: Hannah, Jennifer, Olivia, Nicole, Giselle, Briana, A’Kala
    • Review dates for Thesis and Evidence essays (always due on Sunday at 12 noon) and peer reviewers (always due in seminar) on GDoc Organizer and remember to paste criteria at the top of your essay for peer reviewers to insert suggestions
    • Review dates for Presentation Slides first draft on GDoc Presentations
    • Assign full draft of research essay due on Sun Nov 26th at noon for all
    • Advising prep: update your major proposals and book appointments

Mon Nov 6

  • Due Sunday 12 noon before seminar on GDoc Organizer: Thesis and evidence essay 1 (Briana), essay 2 (Nicole), and paste these evaluation criteria at the top for peer reviewers 5 (A’Kala) and 6 (Giselle), due in seminar
  • Due in seminar: Presentation slides 3 (Olivia), slides 4 (Jenn), slides 5 (A’Kala) on GDoc Presentations

Mon Nov 13

  • Due Sunday 12 noon before seminar: Thesis and evidence essay 3 (Olivia) , essay 4 (Jenn), essay 5 (A’Kala), and paste these evaluation criteria at the top for peer reviewers 7 (Hannah), 1 (Briana), 2 (Nicole)
  • Due in seminar: Presentation slides 2 (Nicole), slides 7 (Hannah) on GDoc Presentations

Mon Nov 20

  • Due Sunday 12 noon before seminar on GDoc Organizer: Thesis and evidence essay 6 (Giselle), essay 7 (Hannah), and paste these evaluation criteria at the top for peer reviewers 3 (Olivia) and 4 (Jen), due in seminar
  • Due in seminar: Presentation slides 1 (Briana), slides 6 (Giselle) on GDoc Presentations
  • If a student has missed important deadlines or not produced satisfactory work by this point, the instructor reserves the right to cancel the student’s public presentation, meaning that the senior research requirement must be fulfilled in a future semester.

Mon Nov 27

Mon Dec 4

  • Invite any additional guests to your presentations next week
  • Discuss presentation criteria used by guest evaluators and Ed faculty
  • Evaluate a senior presentation AND final draft from a prior year:
  • All presentations will be video recorded and uploaded to the Ed Studies Vimeo site with password-protection. Students will receive their video link via email, and have the option to make their videos public.
  • In class: Preview your presentations and discuss ways to improve
  • Assign: Upload your final essay to GDoc Presentations (not GDoc Organizer) by the end of Wednesday Dec 13th. Plan ahead and avoid the late penalty.
  • All students are encouraged to upload final essays and presentation slides (as PDFs) to the Trinity Digital Repository, after receiving final comments on this assignment by the instructor. To be eligible to receive Honors, your work must appear on the Repository by the first Friday in May 2018.
  • Assign peer evaluation: Overall contribution to learning on template emailed directly to students, due TONIGHT via return email to instructor

Mon Dec 11

  • Senior Research Presentations to be scheduled between 12-4pm, about 15 minutes each, followed by Q&A
  •  Evaluators:
    • Guest evaluator nominated by each student
    • Professors Stefanie Wong and Robert Cotto, Ed Studies Program