EDUR 8434
Field Based Educational Research

Spring 2010 Syllabus


1. Office Information

Hours

By chance or appointment, if you don't want to take a chance, make an appointment.

Telephone Numbers

My Office (2128 College of Education Building): 912-478-0488
Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading: 912-478-5091

E-Mail/GeorgiaView

Use GeorgiaView to contact me. If GeorgiaView is not working, my regular e-mail address is bwgriffin@GeorgiaSouthern.edu, but use GeorgiaView mail if possible for course related messages.

Mail

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
P.O. Box 8144
College of Education
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, GA 30460

2. Course Description

Students will develop a research proposal that outlines their plans for the final research project due for the Ed.S. degree. This proposal contains an introduction, literature review, research questions or hypotheses, method section explaining how data will be collected and analyzed, limitations, references, and various appendices.

For more details on purpose of this course, or various requirements for completing the EdS degree, see these guidelines:

EdS Guidelines (word document)

3. Dates and Topics

Class Session

Date

Topic

1 1/14 Syllabus, course requirements, approval of research topics. From this point forward our primary form of communication will be GeorgiaView mail or discussion forum for EDUR 8434. If you would like to meet in person, send me a GeorgiaView mail message and we can arrange an appointment. 
2 1/21  
3 1/28  
4 2/4  
5 2/11  
6 2/18 Draft 1 proposal due. This draft must be as complete as possible. Include all sections and drafts of instruments/interview questions, references, etc. It is important that drafts of student developed questions/questionnaires be included with this draft so we can begin process of refinement. Introduction no longer than 1.5 pages, literature review no more than 4.5 pages, summary no more than 1 page.
7 2/25  
8 3/4 Draft 1 will be placed in return mail by this date or returned as a PDF file in GeorgiaView.
9 3/11  
  3/18 Spring Break
10 3/25 or 3/29 Draft 2 proposal due.
11 4/1 Draft 2 will be placed in return mail by this date or returned as a PDF file in GeorgiaView.. 
12 4/8  
13 4/15 or 4/20 Draft 3 proposal due. Include IRB materials (narrative and NIH training certificate).
14 4/22 Draft 3 will be placed in return mail by this date or returned as a PDF file in GeorgiaView.. 
15 4/29  
16 5/6 Completed proposal due. Include IRB materials (narrative and NIH training certificate); also mail copy of signed Form B (see link to Form B below at bottom of page in topic #15).


4. Text

Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). (2009). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 

Everything submitted must follow APA (6th ed.) guidelines.

Some on-line sources for APA style can be found at the following web addresses:

http://webster.commnet.edu/apa/apa_index.htm

http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/DocAPA.html

http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm

http://www.apastyle.org/

5. Recommended Text

Gall, M.D., Borg, W.R., & Gall, J.P. (1996 or later). Educational Research: An Introduction (6th, 7th, or 8th ed.). White Plains, NY: Longman. ISBN: 0-8013-0980-8

6. Course Outline and Requirements

(a) Written Requirements

You will be required to submit one completed research proposal for the course. The completed proposal is due at the end of the semester, but you are encouraged to submit drafts of the proposal on the dates listed above in the course calendar. If drafts are submitted, I will read them and provide comments for improvement. The final course grade will be derived solely from the completed proposal minus any grading penalties.

I will be concerned primarily with finding major flaws in the proposal drafts (e.g., weak literature review [LR], lack of correspondence between problem statement [PS] and research questions [RQ] or hypotheses [HY], inappropriate research design, etc.). I hope not to make extensive editorial comments on grammar, writing style, etc. I will, however, highlight sections that need revision due to poor wording, grammar, etc. It is your responsibility to ensure a well written, completed proposal is submitted at the end of the course.

The proposal must be on white paper, typed or computer printed, and fastened with a staple in upper left-hand corner if submitted by mail, or sent as a PDF file if submitted in GeorgiaView.  The paper must follow APA style.

Use quotations sparingly. No more than two short quotations will be accepted in your proposal. If more than two are used, your proposal will not be graded until revised.

(b) Proposal Format (in brief, more details provided below in section 10 )

(c) Literature Review (LR; some details)

Students often ask about length of LR; the LR should be succinct and well written with sufficient detail, and be between 3.5 and 4.5 pages in length (I may request more so LR may be longer at my request). The LR should have at least 15 references that relate directly to your research problem. You must show evidence that you have read the literature relating to your research questions, and most (50%+) of the references you cite must be from primary, empirical sources. Often one can find empirical research reported in journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Experimental Psychology, Journal of Educational Psychology, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Contemporary Educational Psychology, or other journals relevant to your content area. If you are unsure whether a particular article is based upon primary, empirical evidence, ask me. Note that not all articles appearing in the journals listed above (or similar journals) are empirically based.

Finally, the LR should clearly indicate how your research queries were devised based upon what others have found in their research. Remember that the LR is a story that clearly shows how your research queries (a) are related to previous research and (b) were derived. If it does not accomplish this goal, the paper will need revision.

(d) Plagiarism

I have found that few students can identify plagiarism—in fact, several semester ago nearly every student in this course plagiarized. To avoid plagiarism, please read the following sources so you can better identify plagiarism in your own writing:

http://webster.commnet.edu/mla/plagiarism.shtml

http://www.aug.edu/sociology/plagiarism.html

Realize that the official GSU position on plagiarism is expulsion from the university, so be very careful. If I find that you plagiarized (e.g., misquoted, no credit given for idea, etc.), either accidentally or deliberately, the best possible grade you will receive for the course will be C. I will not seek to identify incidents of plagiarism while reading the drafts. I may, however, spot check each completed proposal for plagiarism. To do this, I may require that you provide copies of two or three cited sources in your paper.

(e) Student Readers

Each student is encouraged to select a partner in class (or find a friend to assist you). Each student should read their partner's proposal drafts and provide written feedback to their partner. Use this feedback to revise your proposal. You, as the reader of your partner's proposal, should focus on the following:

7. Research Topics

Before beginning your proposal I must first approve your research topic. This should be done during the first or second week of the semester. Note that some of you are required to complete the "Ed.S. Research Topic Approval Form," which can be obtained from your advisor or instructors in your program area.

Send your topic to me, by GeorgiaView mail (even if we discuss it during class), so I have it for my records. Please address the following:

  1. What is your content area (e.g., leadership, special education)?
  2. Briefly explain the purpose and intent of your proposed study. In doing this brief description, identify the following:

When selecting a research topic, often it may be helpful to find a published study to replicate, with minor revisions.

8. Attendance, Academic Dishonesty, and Disability Accommodation

The class will be conducted by GeorgiaView mail. Any form of academic dishonesty will result in an F for the course. (For plagiarism, see above comments.)

Georgia Southern University is committed to providing an equal educational opportunity to qualified students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) is the primary source of services for these students. Students with an array of disabilities are eligible for services; however, documentation standards exist for all conditions. For further information contact the SDRC at 871-1566. If you have a documented disability, please provide me with the appropriate GSU documentation.

9. Grades

Course grade will be based upon the completed proposal only with exceptions due to grading penalties. I am willing to read drafts of the proposal and offer suggestions on the drafts that meet the timelines noted above in the course calendar. Normally comments and recommendations for improvement will be provided for drafts of the proposal, and grades will be assigned to the completed proposal. .

If a completed proposal is not submitted by the last day of the semester for this course, the final course grade will be based upon the last version of the proposal submitted.

There will be no extensions in this course except in rare cases of hardship that prevents you from completing the course in a timely manner. If I have received no proposal from you, an "F" will be assigned unless an extension is made. For those who do receive an extension, you will be allowed to submit only one proposal and your course grade will be based upon that submission (also note that there will be no opportunity to receive comments for revisions or to make revisions). In addition, a penalty of a reduced letter grade will be imposed on all proposals submitted after the end of the semester.

Understand that I am paid during this semester this course is taught to reserve time to review all proposals for this course. Proposals submitted after the semester has ended create additional, unplanned work for me. Given this, I will read tardy proposals at my convenience. I will not read proposals during holiday breaks or during summer if I am not working for GSU. However, I normally teach during the first short term of summer. If I receive your proposal during the first three weeks on the summer term in which I teach, I will read your proposal during the summer term in which I teach. Any proposal submitted after the first three weeks of the summer term in which I teach will go unread until start of fall semester. My policy applies even if you have plans to graduate during the summer session, so plan your course activities accordingly.

The most common mistakes found in proposals are listed below. Following each is the corresponding reduction in course grade.

The above list is not exhaustive. Frequently proposals present unique problems that must be addressed individually. I will attempt to assess the severity of the problem in accordance with similar mistakes listed above when deciding the value to assign to the problem.

Many of the factors that reduce grades listed above can be easily avoided, such as plagiarism, APA errors, failing to present all required sections, and lack of correspondence between citations and reference list. If you are unclear about any of these factors, please contact me. Generally I will highlight these problems while reading the proposal drafts. With this information, most students find it easy to correct problems.

In addition to the points listed above, grading penalties will be imposed for the following: tardy submissions (1/2 letter grade; 5 points), course extensions (letter grade),

Finally, note that each draft normally takes me between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours to read and write comments. Each proposal is time intensive because of the thought required when considering each research situation. The most time consuming task, however, is thinking through poor writing. Because reading these proposals is time intensive, I try to provide comments that will make each research project successful, and each draft read well. It is for these reasons that I make substantial comments on drafts submitted by many students. Sometimes students ignore substantive changes outlined in my comments when I return drafts. If I provide comments and notes for changes to one's draft, those changes are to be implemented by the next draft. If comments are ignored or disregarded in a subsequent draft, I will assume that student has made all changes that he or she intends to make, so I will therefore assign the final course grade to the latest draft. To be clear, consider this example. If I provide notes for changes on draft 1 for a given student, and if in draft 2 those changes are not implemented, then I will read no additional proposal drafts from that student and the course grade will be based upon draft 2.   

10. Outline for the Proposal

(a) Introduction -- Purpose of Study, PS (in future tense, except perhaps for introductory paragraphs) -- this section does not have a header

Brief Example:

Speculation among educators and educational researchers holds that increases in academic standards may have detrimental effects on students, especially academic at-risk students (Johnson, 1994; Jones, 1993). With state mandates requiring increased standards, such as the adoption of minimum competency tests, educational researchers have argued that high school dropout rates will increase substantially once students begin experiencing difficulty passing competency tests (Adam, 1983). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether increased standards, in the form of minimum competency tests, influence students' decisions to leave school before graduation. If increased academic standards do, in fact, influence students' decisions to drop out of school, then policy makers need to reconsider both the goals for, and implementation of, such standards.

(b) Literature review, LR (past tense in most situations, see APA) -- this section has a header that is centered, e.g., "Literature Review" or some title more relevant to your review; this section should between 3.5 and 4.5 pages.

Characteristics of LR include:

(c) Summary and Research Questions/Hypotheses (future tense) -- this section has a header that is left justified, e.g., "Summary and Research Questions"

Example (this example paragraph would follow the LR):

As noted above, both educators and educational researchers think that minimum competency testing will result in more students dropping out of school. In addition, academically at-risk students and racial minority students are expected to be especially affected by poor performances on competency tests. To empirically examine these issues, data will be collected and analyzed in this study to address the following questions regarding the relationship between competency test performance and dropping out of high school: (a) Do students who fail the minimum competency test show an increased likelihood of dropping out of school? (b) Are students with lower achievement records more likely to leave school if they fail the competency test than students with average and above average achievement records? (c) Are Blacks and Hispanics differentially affected, in terms of dropping out, by failure on the competency relative to White students?

After stating the RQ or HY, indicate in a few sentences or a paragraph how this study differs from previous research on the topic—how your study makes a contribution.

Example:

This study, unlike other published work on increased standards, will provide an empirical analysis of the relationship between test performance and dropping out of high school. In addition, this study extends research by specifically examining testing performance for academically at-risk students and racial minority students and their decisions to leave school.

Note: Students have frequently included in their proposals sentences or phrases from the above examples directly. This, of course, is plagiarism. Do not use the phrasing given above.

If you plan to use qualitative research techniques, the outline given below may not be best for you. Please contact me so we can determine together the best presentation for your proposed research.

(d) Method -- this section has header, centered, called simply "Method." Note that the order of the subsections under Method may be changed to facilitate presentation of information. For example, it may be easier to first present the procedure and then present the materials. The participants section, however, should always be presented first.

(1) Participants -- use this header, left justified

(2) Materials -- use this header, left justified

(3) Design -- use this header (if needed), left justified, however it is better to incorporate this information into Procedures section below rather than have a short, detached Design section)

(4) Procedure -- use this header, left justified

Here you indicate, in detail, each and every step required in collecting the data from beginning to end (how and when instruments were administered; how, when, and how long treatments were administered; steps you used to ensure high return rate of surveys; how treatment and control groups will be similar and different--how treatment differs from control condition; etc.). This section is very important since it outlines precisely how the study will be conducted using materials and participants described above. Your goal in this section is to provide enough detail to enable someone unfamiliar with your study to replicate it.

(e) Analysis -- use this header, left justified

In this section indicate how each and every research question or hypothesis will be analyzed or evaluated. For example, if you hypothesize that treatment A will increase achievement, and you used a posttest-only control group design with two groups (treatment A and the control group), then you will use a two-group t-test to determine whether a statistical difference exists between the two groups in terms of achievement. Also indicate that you will provide descriptive statistics or other summary measures, if appropriate. As another example, if you plan to analyze responses to open-ended questions or interviews, explain that you will use content analysis or thematic analysis to identify common themes among responses and explain how this information will be presented in the report.

(f) Limitations of Study (Note: Limitations will be moved to Discussion section once study is completed) -- use this header, including the parenthetical note, left justified

Discuss any potential threats to either internal or external validity in the study. That is, which factors exist that might affect the control (internal validity) or generalizability (external validity) of the study. If, for example, you used some type of quasi-experimental design, then indicate how you tested groups to ensure equivalence, and which factors may still exist that prohibit causal inferences (e.g., lack of initial equivalence between groups).

(g) Appendix -- use this header (if needed), centered

Include in the appendix:

For more information on method, cover letters, survey or questionnaire development, experimental design names, etc., see recommended textbooks.

(h) References -- use this header centered

Provide a reference list.

11. Sample Proposals

Two sample proposals can be found below:

Sample Proposal 1

Sample Proposal 2

12. Institutional Review Board (IRB) Form

(a) What and When --

GSU requires that researchers working with human subjects submit research procedures and forms to the IRB for approval prior to executing one's study. Note that you will NOT submit an IRB application during the semester of EDUR 8434. If an IRB application is needed for your study, you will instead submit the IRB application under the guidance of your XXXX 8839 instructor or advisor. That will occur after you complete EDUR 8434.

However, you will begin developing the IRB application while enrolled in EDUR 8434. In this course, two components of the IRB application will be developed or completed, the narrative description of your research, and the NIH training certificate. 

(b) Narrative -- 

The IRB application proposal narrative contains a succinct description of the researcher's plan for executing the study. Here is a link to the proposal narrative page that describes what is required by IRB:

http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/research/forms/IRB%20Narrative%20Instructions.doc 

Address each component of the narrative succinctly (note, don't copy the work you present in this class, instead summarize it, although do retain enough details to enable IRB reviewers to understand clearly your procedures), then submit with your 3rd and final draft.

To complete the IRB application, you must complete other forms, such as the cover sheet, informed consent, etc. Each can be found here:

http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/research/forms_compliance.html

(c) NIH Training -- 

Also, all IRB applicants must complete NIH training and receive a certificate before IRB will approve your research. Here is a link to that:

http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php 

Complete this and submit your training certificate with your final draft. This can be tedious, but is required by the IRB

(d) IRB --

If you want to know more about the IRB at GSU, the link can be found here:

http://academics.georgiasouthern.edu/research/compliance_irb.htm 

13. Submitting Drafts

When submitting drafts of your proposal, please submit your draft by regular mail (and include your address on the title page of your proposal draft), or send drafts as PDF files in GeorgiaView as an attachment. Do not send drafts via e-mail. If you want me to read a few paragraphs for quick comment, send the paragraphs by GeorgiaView as part of the GeorgiaView text or as a PDF file.

If you do not know how to convert Word/Wordperfect (etc) documents into PDF, below are some helpful links:

Here are a few free web page that convert files to PDF over the internet: 

I use the following free software to create my PDF files (it leaves no watermark): http://www.primopdf.com/ 

I also use OpenOffice to create some free PDF files. Open Office is a free Office Suite similar to Microsoft Office (Open Office leaves no watermark):http://www.openoffice.org/ 

If you want further tips and links for converting to free PDFs, read this site http://www.pruittfamily.com/paul/freepdf.htm or this onehttp://www.masternewmedia.org/2002/03/31/creating_pdfs_without_adobe_acrobat_part_ii.htm 

14. Course Extensions/Tardy Proposals

As noted above:

There will be no extensions in this course except in rare cases of hardship that prevented you from completing the course in a timely manner. If I have received no proposal from you, a grade of "F" will be assigned unless an extension is made. For those who do receive an extension, you will be allowed to submit only one proposal and your course grade will be based upon that submission (also note that there will be no opportunity to receive comments for revisions or to make revisions). In addition, a penalty of a reduced letter grade will be imposed on all proposals submitted after the end of the semester.

Understand that I am paid during this semester this course is taught to reserve time to review all proposals for this course. Proposals submitted after the semester has ended create additional, unplanned work for me. Given this, I will read tardy proposals at my convenience. I will not read proposals during holiday breaks or during summer if I am not working for GSU. However, I normally teach during the first short term of summer. If I receive your proposal during the first three weeks on the summer term in which I teach, I will read your proposal during the summer term in which I teach. Any proposal submitted after the first three weeks of the summer term in which I teach will go unread until start of fall semester. My policy applies even if you have plans to graduate during the summer session, so plan your course activities accordingly.

15. Form B

Submit completed Form B, with your signature, by end of semester. I will sign and forward to whoever you identify as your EdS committee chair. Form B can be found here:

Form B (Word format)


Copyright 2002, Bryan W. Griffin

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