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Factors Affecting the Study Habits of Pupils

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THE THESIS PROPOSAL: DESIGNING CURRICULUM

Objectives of these Guidelines:

These guidelines will prepare the student to be able to:

1. List and describe the chapters and subsections of a thesis proposal and a research report and their proper order.

2. Describe the characteristics of an appropriate proposal title.

3. Compare and contrast the styles appropriate for (1) a dissertation or thesis, (2) a research proposal, (3) a research report, (4) a professional paper, and (5) a journal article.

CURRICULUM PROPOSAL OUTLINE

Cover Page
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Introduction (Need for the Study, Justification) Problem Statement Objectives Definitions of Terms Limitations of the Study Basic Assumptions
Chapter 2 - Review of Literature (Can have sections deemed necessary)
Chapter 3 - Procedures Curriculum Design Subject Selection Outcome Measures (of the project/thesis) Conditions of Presenting the Curriculum Treatments - What are the Unit(s)/Lessons? Evaluation (of the subjects after each lesson)
*plus

** Chapter 4 presentation should follow the same sequence and topics as that presented in Chapter 3. **

Chapter 4 - Results (The actual unit(s) & lessons) Findings Relative to problem Field Test Results Summary of Data
Chapter 5 - Discussion

*Bibliography
*Appendices
ELEMENTS OF THE CURRICULUM PROPOSAL

Cover Page

Follow the style prescribed by the style manual suggested by the university, department or adviser. For the M.Ed., follow the APA style.

Title - Should contain key words or phrases to give a clear and concise description of the scope and nature of the report, and key words should allow bibliographers to index the study in proper categories (Van Dalen, 1979:406). - Indicate major concepts to be addresses - Indicate nature of curricula * non-formal * formal * experiential - Indicate target audience - Avoid words like: "A Study of........” "An Investigation of ........” "A Survey of ........” - Example dissertation title: "A Process for Determining Competencies for the Performance of Essential Activities for Environmental Literacy by Environmental Education Center Personnel in the Environmental Education Industry and the Loci in Which the Competencies Could Be Taught.” Journal article title for the above: "What does it take to teach kids about nature?”

Table of Contents

Follow appropriate style (APA) Gives bird’s-eye view of dissertation or thesis Not "generally” provided in reports, papers or articles

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Background and Setting

- Provide reader with necessary background and setting to put the problem in proper context. - Lets the reader see the basis for the study. - Justifies and convinces the reader that the study is needed. - Be factual--statements, opinions and points of view should be documented. (Differentiate between those that are your own and those from the literature.) - Provide a logical lead-in to a clear and concise statement of the problem. - Your "sales pitch.” - In a proposal for funding, address capabilities and capacity of individuals and agency/institution in this section. - Where appropriate, provides support with reference to literature.

Statement of the Problem

Describe characteristics of properly stated problems. Clearly describe the problem to be researched.

Objectives of the Study

- Be sure to understand the meaning of "Objectives”. - Best located after the statement of the problem. - Indicate the learning to be provided. - Make clear the direct connection between specific objectives and related literature and theory - Be sure to list objectives in proper sequence. Follow that sequence throughout the remainder of the paper.

Definitions of Terms

- Define terms in the context where they will be used - provide operational definitions as well as constitutive definitions. - Include a list of definitions for terms and concepts that have significant meaning for the project. - Constructed in listing form - like a dictionary, not prose form - Do not define generally understood concepts, principles and concerns, e.g., vocational education, secondary education, adult education. - Much of the specific information about the terms will be presented in other appropriate sections of the proposal

Limitations of the Study

- Summarize limitations brought about by the procedures and limitations of the study. - Describe the procedural limitations in detail in the appropriate section; just summarize here

Basic Assumptions

- Do not make assumptions about procedures. - Accepted without thought of immediate proof. - Propositions for which no information can (or will) be made available within the scope of the study. - Are axiomatic in that they are propositions that virtually every reasonable person is ready to adopt but which cannot be proven. - Type of assumption most commonly stated explicitly is one that is limited in its nature and serves to hold the size or scope of an investigation within its prescribed boundaries (puts parameters around the study), e.g., study will deal with secondary students not post-secondary - Usually made when the argument rests on a priori reasoning, but can be made on basis of present knowledge on research which is as yet incomplete (Specific qualifications must be made in the conclusions of the report in which assumptions are made.) - Ought to be clearly stated - Protects researcher, e.g., keeps someone from saying, "Oh, I thought you were studying XYZ, too.” - Assumptions are not hypotheses or objectives. - Hypotheses are propositions to be investigated and are the very subject of the problem; so, do not make assumptions about them.

Significance of the Problem

- These arguments can be presented in the "Background and Setting” section. This does not need to be a special section. - Knowledge relating to the theory that ....... - New products, e.g., instrument, instructional material, etc. - Who (what individuals or groups) can use this new knowledge or information yielded by the curriculum to change or improve the present situation? How will the curriculum contribute to the improvement of the profession? - Indicate how the results can be generalized beyond the bounds of specific work. - Can use the arguments of others (expert opinion) who call for an investigation of the problem (properly documented, of course). - Can use conflict in findings of related research as justification for the study. Be sure it is documented in Review of Literature. - Use if, then (hypothetical-deductive) logic

Chapter 2 - Review of Literature

A. Provides tentative solutions to the problem or tentative answers to the questions. (Could be publishable)

B. Indicates the theory on which the study is based; critiques and weighs studies as theory is built. (Teeter-totter example where the results of one study might be weighed against contradictory outcomes from another study.)

C. Provides the rationale for the problem and objectives therein

D. Organized and written in reference to the specific objectives of the study

E. Proposals generally do not include as a complete review as does the report.

F. Consists of two phases

1. Problem exploration - definition stage * Conducted before proposal preparation to identify problem * Provides dimensions and limits of the problem area * Defines extent to which solution or answer is already known * Helps discern "What do we know the least about?” * Identifies possible procedures (design, instruments; outcomes) for conducting the project

2. Proposal Writing - See A-E above

Chapter 3 - Procedures

(Some writers call this chapter "Methodology”)

REPLICATION is the key word to keep in mind when writing this chapter. You must provide accurate, detailed descriptions of how the project was done so it could be replicated (redone) by others. You should provide explanations that will enable the reader to reproduce the exact conditions of the original curricula. A rather extensive explanation should be provided so that readers understand why and how you are going to do the lessons (in a final report). Your procedures should answer questions or objectives as efficiently, economically and validly as possible.

SECTIONS

The sections of curriculum design, subject selection, outcome measures, conditions of testing, treatments and evaluation will encompass most methodological activities that need to be described. Each section will be described separately.

Curriculum Design

Describe the type of curriculum to be written, i.e.,experiential education, adventure based, environmental education, non-formal, formal (K-12, higher ed.). Use this section to describe how you will set up your project to carry out the optimal learning for the appropriate audience. Describe the steps you will take to address the objectives in operational terms.

Describe what intervening conditions might affect the outcomes of the unit(s). - Analyze the validity of the project. (How will you know that you are going to be teaching what you say you are? or, will the learner be learning what you want them to because of your curricula and not some other influence?) - Also, discuss threats to validity. - Describe how your study will measure or control these threats given the "Limitations of the Study.”

The description of the design for writing curricula is generally easy to describe, while the validity is not. Describe non-participants (subjects or learners) follow-up procedures and procedures to compare participants with non-participants. Generally, "participants” means "students”. (In a research project, these people would be referred to as "respondents”.)

A study may involve more than one purpose. Indicate clearly which design is to address each objective, if you have different purposes and designs..

Particular attention must be directed to alternative or rival explanations to the success of the curriculum.

Schematic (graphic) diagrams, or models, often aid in understanding the design. Define the symbols you use.

Subject Selection

The population to be studied is first identified and how a target audience (list of elements or unique characteristics of the population) will be developed. Explain why this population is appropriate for this study. Note any discrepancies between the accessible population and the target population.

Describe the sampling procedure. Relate how the sample was selected and your reasons for selecting any stratifying variables, if any were employed. Describe the selection rationale.

Describe the size of the sample, how it was determined, and the rationale for the size. Sampling units should be identified. Be sure to differentiate between a class being the subject versus an individual student. You sample will comprise the group of subjects being targeted for your curricula.

Data describing the characteristics of the subjects that are relevant to the curricula should be provided; and, if available, data from the population to enable the reader to judge the representativeness of the sample. ("At risk youth” v. 8th grade female students from Duluth, Minnesota with tendencies toward truancy.)

Describe what will be done to specifically get the students directly participating in the lessons? What does the teacher need to do to prepare the students for the lessons? All affect the population to whom one can generalize the results because of interfering differences in how the unit/lessons were presented to the learners.

Outcome Measures

Measurement of the effects of the lessons is one key to your study. Discuss techniques or instruments you will use to measure the success of the curriculum. One of those measures will be student outcomes.

1. Validity - Does the instrument or technique measure what it purports to measure with this group?

2. Reliability - Whatever the instrument or technique measures, does it do so consistently with this group? Will it work in a similar way if tried with a different group of students by a different teacher in a different setting?

3. Suitability - Utility must be high for subjects to whom the assessment is administered.

If well-known lessons are used, you should generally describe the lesson benefits, and describe their reliability and validity, and refer the reader through citation to references where more thorough detailed discussions can be found.

If you as the researcher are developing the instrumentation, then validity and reliability must be established. The lesson should be pilot and/or field tested. Describe how this was done. A field test can locate potential suitability problem areas. Append copies of the instruments to the proposal.

The Review of Literature can be utilized to verify the concepts/theory under study and the scope of the educational methods to assess the concepts. This section should establish the operational link between these concepts/theory and the lessons.

If you use interviewers or observers, how will they be trained? Once this is done, give their inter-rater and intra-rater reliabilities.

Conditions of Testing

Describe when, where, and under what conditions the curriculum was presented, the number of times and order in which lessons were used, and the time allotted for presentation of each lesson in its entirety.

Describe the verbal and written directions provided to the subjects. Were incentives used to encourage response?

Be specific! Describe when the test (curriculum) was administered, e.g., taking a test after lunch, after another test, etc., may explain variance more than the when in the quarter the test was administered, or your that it was your specific lesson, that made the difference to the student.

During the actual presentation of lessons, monitor events. In reporting your results, explain these events to the reader.

If instruments are potentially threatening (psychologically or physically), describe what precautions will be taken to minimize this threat.

Treatments

How were the lessons administered? What was done to the subjects? Describe all levels so that they are replicable. Were any methods employed and abandoned because they were valueless?

Kerlinger describes maximizing the differences between the levels of the independent variable. A typical shortcoming is comparing a "new” method with a "traditional” or "conventional” method of doing something. When this happens, the researcher will often describe at length the "new” method but not the "traditional” method. How, really, are they different?

If attribute variables are used in the design, identify them and the number of levels of each and briefly describe the rationale for the selection of the attribute variables (more thorough explanation should be in the "Review”). (For instance, we often cite "self-esteem” as an attribute that we have "improved”. Describe "self-esteem” and "improved” so that the reader understands the behavior comprising the construct.)

Evaluation

Evaluative techniques are tools selected because of your design, not vice versa. (Measuring change is done through observing physical behavior or through a written self-perceived change.)

Explain why were these methods of evaluation were employed. Are these the best ways to determine the effect of your lesson? How do you know?

Remember, select evaluation tools that answer the question(s) involved with the study. They should serve to answer your objectives, not to dominate them. Specify what means of evaluation will be used for each objective.

September 20, 2000
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