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The Final Project

 

ACTIVITY PLANNING INSTRUCTIONS

for

Psyched for Research

Final Project:

An Independent Research Project

 

Activity Description/Rationale                                                       

The final project in this ARM is one that students begin the course knowing about. In this activity, students will put their self-determination, and knowledge of research design and statistics to the ultimate test, as they will propose, design, carry out, analyze, and present findings of an original and independent research study. This activity is suggested for pairs of students, and can be done with the supervision of an expert in the student’s chosen field of research, if available. This activity is meant to allow students a great deal of independence. This activity is heavily reliant on the skills and knowledge acquired from the first three activities.

 

NYS Standards: Content Knowledge & Inquiry, Analysis, and Design

Students will apply their already-acquired knowledge of research design and scientific inquiry to their own research project.

 

Common Core Learning Standards

Common Core reading and writing standards will be addressed, as students are expected to locate, read, analyze, break down, and understand scientific journal articles as they relate to their projects. They are expected to locate a number of articles that they can link together to form a coherent APA-formatted review of a scientific topic that can later be used to assist them in analyzing and writing results of their independent projects.

 

Common Core speaking, listening, and language standards will be thoroughly tested throughout this activity, as students will be required to partake in general class discussions, as well as present their individual background research, methods, and results of their aerodynamics/paper airplane project. Students will use feedback they receive from their peers and mentors to continuously improve their presentation and writing skills.

 

Goals: Process Skills (Basic & Integrated) and Attitudes/ (Enduring Understandings & Essential Questions)

Students will conduct basic methodology and scientific inquiry including data collection and analysis. Students will use their data to conduct basic statistical tests to support their studies. Additionally, students will illustrate their methods and data by creating the appropriate diagrams, figures, and tables. Students will develop a sense of critical thinking and questioning required for successful scientific inquiry.

 

Universal Design for Learning/Differentiation

Students will be instructed to think about what kind of project they can design from the beginning of the course, knowing that at some point they will have to write a research proposal that will be critiqued and hopefully approved. For this project, students will hand in small portions of their final APA-formatted paper throughout the course, such that they will continuously receive feedback on their progress. Students will also assist each other using peer review methods and constructive criticism. The general knowledge they gather over the course of this ARM will allow them to develop this independent project in any number of areas that may be of interest to them. If available, students will be paired with a mentor that is an expert in the field they have chosen. For instance, students may work with a college professor in their laboratory, conducting studies alongside graduate students.

 

Materials

Materials for this project are minimally a lab notebook. Additional materials include anything the student needs to conduct their research; very often, such materials are provided by the mentor they have chosen to work with. For example, students may choose to work within the realm of the Urban Barcode Project, and materials needed will be those related to DNA sampling and coding.

 

Estimated Length of Activity:

This activity has an extremely open proposed length. Students may find that they finish their project within one semester, while others may continue their projects for a number of years.

 

Pre-Activity

Students should complete, or simultaneously work on the first three activities for the course as they work on their final project.

 

Activity Instructions:

The instructor should begin this activity by first teaching principles of research, which will be reviewed over the course of the first two units of this ARM. The instructor should monitor progress of all independent projects very closely during weekly or biweekly conferences. Additionally, students are expected to keep in regular contact with their mentor. Finally, students are to keep detailed records of these meetings for review by the course instructor.

 

Other relevant class discussions relating to proper APA format and citations, and any other student requested material will be held when appropriate.

 

Assignments

Students will be required to keep very detailed notes of their work in their lab notebooks. Additionally, students will turn in each section of their final APA-formatted final research paper at differing intervals, such that the instructor and the student’s peers can provide occasional feedback on their work. Students will also complete a number of presentations on their topic in order to make them comfortable with public speaking in general, and on their topic.

 

Assessment and Reflection

Student progress will be monitored over the course of the ARM. As students are only required to hand in one section of their paper at a time, this will enable the instructor to ensure that each student is on the right track, and understands each component. Finally, individual out-of-class conferences between each student/group and the instructor will be required biweekly, to provide an additional measure of progress and understanding.

 

Instructor’s Notes:

Students must be familiar with various search engines and scientific journal databases. Students should also have a working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel, and potentially an additional statistical program (i.e. SPSS). Limited instruction on these topics will be available during class, and out-of-class tutoring should also be available. Students should also have access to computers in the school with these programs installed.

Instructors can rearrange the layout/specific assignments as they see fit (for example, if an instructor would rather pair the Introduction and Discussion sections as one assignment rather than two separate assignments, that is feasible.

Progress reports are extremely important for this project since the students have quite a bit of freedom and must be very self-motivated to complete this activity.

Students should be advised to work in groups of two for this project.

 

Go back to the "Psyched for Research" Introduction page!