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Research Proposal

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Running head: RESEARCH PROPOSAL ASSIGNMENT 2

Does standardized testing relate to giving motivational instructions for elementary students in a public school system? The purpose of this study is to test whether motivational instructions improve performance on standardized tests with students in two different schools in the Chicago Public Schools System. Figuring out whether doing simple things such as changing the way the test is presented to positively impact the way the students take the test and their resulting scores ways heavily on those who give these standardized tests. An e-mail will be sent around to all elementary school principals and fourth grade teachers in the Public Schools System in Chicago. This e-mail will discuss the concern of high standardized test scores in all schools across the United States. It will also ask these principals and teachers if they will be willing to participate in a simple study that will give educators more insight as to whether the way a teacher presents the instructions of their tests has an impact on the scores of these students. Of the schools that send back an e-mail stating that they are interested in the study, five to ten schools will be chosen. These schools will be chosen according to the number of students in the fourth grade, male to female ratio, their average test scores, socioeconomic status, and representation of the population. The schools with the most similar of these variables will be chosen to participate in this study. These students will already be divided into groups of about 150 students according to the elementary school these students attend. All of these students will also be in the fourth grade so all the students will be on a similar learning level. After the principal consents to the study, the researcher will get the consent of the teachers, students, parents, and the IRB.
Running head: RESEARCH PROPOSAL ASSIGNMENT 3

Teachers will be given the same set of lesson plans covering the same material that will last over a month time period. Teachers must follow these lesson plans, materials, and standardized tests that are included in this packet. The teachers will take the first two weeks of the allotted time frame and teach the assigned material and give the associated standardized test without motivational instructions. This process will be repeated the following two weeks but the teacher will use motivational instructions before giving the assigned standardized tests.
After choosing the particular ten public schools to participate in this research project, the teachers will be given a packet. This packet will outline what will be done the next month in their classroom in the Literature portion. All ten of these schools must follow the outline exactly without any variations. Worksheets, tests, and any extra material that is to be used while teaching these lessons over the month period will be included in the packet. Not at any time during this research project will the teacher be allowed to alter the lesson plans in any manner. Also included in this packet will be the particular motivational instructions that must be stated during the last two weeks of the allotted time and which of these instructions that will be used with each particular test. These teachers who receive the packet will also have to attend a mandatory meeting that will discuss the materials received in the packet in great detail.
After these teachers have a good understanding about what is needed from them, they will begin teaching the students in the classroom. The first two weeks will follow the lesson plans given to the teacher at the beginning of this experiment. The teacher will be presenting a short story with the students which will include vocabulary from the story
Running head: RESEARCH PROPOSAL ASSIGNMENT 4

itself and literary terms. The students will have a standardized test over the vocabulary from the short story, the literary terms dealing with a short story, and the comprehension of the story itself. They will present the according materials as well as the standardized tests coordinating with that material. During these tests, the teacher will not use any motivational instructions. The teachers will read the instructions of the test in a normal manner. These test scores will be meticulously recorded from the three standardized tests the students will take the first two weeks. This process will be repeated the next two weeks. The teacher will present a new short story to the students. The method that the teacher presents this new short story will be the same as with the first story. These two stories will be on the same reading level as well. This short story will have the same number of standardized tests over the same material according to the new short story. These three tests will also be set up exactly the same as the three tests from the first two weeks of this research project. The only difference between the first two weeks and the second two weeks will be the instructions given before the tests. During the last two weeks of this project, the teacher will present each test and give the motivational instructions spoken about during the initial meeting. These test scores will also be meticulously recorded as well from all ten schools.
A quasi-experimental design will be used with this research project considering that these groups will already be established. The independent variable in this study is the motivational instructions given to the students before their standardized tests. The dependent variable is the standardized test scores. Some of the control variables that needed to be neutralized are the social and ethnic make-up of the students in the 4th grade
Running head: RESEARCH PROPOSAL ASSIGNMENT 5

at each school. We have also had to neutralize having different types of materials as well as different standardized tests given to these ten fourth grades. The test scores from all six of the tests will be where we get the statistical data from. These tests will be divided according to whether motivational instructions were used or not. The first three tests will not have any use of positive instructions before the tests. The second three tests will have positive instructions used before each of the tests. These teachers will also all use the same motivational instructions before the tests. This study will use inferential statistics. We will need to relate the two variables of motivational instructions with higher scores on standardized tests. These two standardized test scores will be used to measure and determine whether there is a positive correlation or if there is any correlation at all between the two variables. The null hypothesis is: there is no difference between the impact of the lack of motivational phrases from the first two weeks and the impact of using motivational phrases the second two weeks in terms of raising their standardized test scores for the 4th graders in the Chicago Public School System. The alternative hypothesis is: Hearing motivational instructions for two weeks before taking standardized tests will have a higher impact on their test scores then not hearing motivational instructions for two weeks before taking standardized tests. Some problems with this study will be the mental capacity of the groups of fourth graders in one school compared with another. Some of these schools may not be on the same learning level as others. Even though the teachers have a strict itinerary to follow, some students might relate better to their teacher than others. It would be beneficial for the study to have the same teacher teach the lesson to the students as to make sure the
Running head: RESEARCH PROPOSAL ASSIGNMENT 6

information is presented in the same method. Even though the separate two weeks are set up to be as similar as possible, it could be possible that the students might have an easier time comprehending one story than the other. It would also be beneficial to possibly do a longer more in-depth study with a smaller group of students. There would be only one teacher and one teaching method to deal with. The teacher could follow their lesson plans throughout the year, but the teacher could use motivational instructions for half of the year while not using those motivational phrases the other half of the year. It would also be helpful to do this study in many different types of schools. This study limits itself to the Public School System only. It leaves out private school, home schools, etc. Having a broader scope of which schools to choose from could increase the validation of this study as a whole.

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