Types of Creative Projects That May Be Acceptable for the M.Ed. Degree

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1 THIS INFORMATION CAN BE MADE AVAILABLE 2/2001 IN BRAILLE, LARGE PRINT, AND AUDIO FORMAT UPON REQUEST. Types of Creative Projects That May Be Acceptable for the M.Ed. Degree Your project must be approved by members of your advisory committee. Therefore, once you have developed an idea for your project, you should obtain tentative approval before starting work on your proposal. Your proposal must be approved before you launch into the creative project. Here are a few kinds of projects that may be acceptable. 1. Action Research Project Action research involves using the scientific method to study local problems, such as problems you have encountered in your own classroom. Unlike more scientific education research, action research does not seek findings that can be generalized to a population. Instead, it seeks practical answers to problems in your own school or classroom. Thus, you can often use simpler procedures in action research than in more formalized research. The target population for an action research project will likely be individuals associated with a public school district. Therefore, sampling techniques that provide a representative sample of participants from the district are desirable. Descriptive or nonparametric statistical techniques should be used to analyze action research results. (See Leedy & Ormrod [2001], Practical Research Planning and Design, Ch. 11; Bisplinghoff & Allen [1998], Engaging Teachers: Creating Teaching/Researching Relationships.) 2. Educational Development/Product Development A useful project for the M.Ed. is to develop educational materials to improve instruction or help solve an educational problem. The usual procedure is to evaluate critically the materials already available (if any), decide what can be done to develop more effective materials, develop the materials, try them out in your own classroom and evaluate their effectiveness. The project report would be presentation and demonstration of the materials. For example, suppose you teach algebra and have identified three concepts that students have difficulty understanding. You could develop special visual materials to help teach these three concepts and then try them out in your algebra classes to determine if more students demonstrate an understanding of the concepts when the materials are used. Although most development projects focus on building more effective curriculum materials, development can be used to help improve virtually any aspect of education in which current procedures appear to be ineffective. The emphasis may be not only on effectiveness, but on such concerns as reducing the demands of teaching, improving student attitudes, generating parental support, and so on. 1

2 The education process/product should proceed through a typical Research and Development model and include the following steps as a minimum: A. Research and information collecting: Includes review of the literature, classroom observations, and preparation of report of state of art; B. Planning: includes defining skills, stating objectives, determining course sequence, and small scale feasibility testing; C. Develop preliminary form of process/product: Includes preparation of instruction materials, handbooks, and evaluation devices; D. Preliminary field testing: The process/product is tried out in from 1 to 3 settings, using 6 to 12 subjects. Interview, observational, and questionnaire data are collected and analyzed; E. Main process/product revision: Revisions of process/product as suggested by preliminary field test results. (See Gall, Borg & Gall [1996]. Educational Research (6 th ed.), pp ) 3. Inservice Education Projects Sometimes M.Ed. candidates see a problem in their school or school district that calls for inservice education. Preparation of an inservice package calls for the review of pertinent literature, preparation of materials, and the review and tryout of the materials. For example, one physical education teacher noted that elementary school teachers were unaware of the nutritional needs of diabetic students. He studied the literature on diabetic children and prepared an audio-visual presentation for use in school faculty meetings. The project report would be a demonstration of the package. The inservice education package should include: (a) needs assessment, (b) course syllabus, (c) course objectives, (d) course content (tests, lecture materials, etc.), (e) assignments, (f) tests (and results), and (g) course evaluations. 4. Development of Teaching Skills An M.Ed project may be aimed at improving skills or skill areas in which the candidate feels himself or herself to be lacking, such as working with students in the science lab or conducting discussions of controversial issues. The project might involve reading the literature for skill ideas, observing teachers who have mastered such skills, and arranging for supervised practice of the skills. The project might be a brief paper and demonstration teaching using the skills. Systematic procedures for critically reviewing literature relevant to the teaching skills area and for observing teachers who have mastered the desired skills should be addressed. 2

3 Objectives for the supervised practice, specific competencies to be gained, methods for gaining competencies and evaluation strategies for measuring the attainment of objectives and competencies should be included in the proposal and the final report. 5. Developing Content Expertise A. Independent Study A teacher s problem may be a feeling of inadequacy in regard to a topic he or she must teach which is not treated adequately in an available university course. The project would involve study in the area with the development of a report on what has been learned or, even more appropriately, an instructional unit based upon what had been learned. The planning, preparation, and presentation of a music recital would be another such example. A proposal for a project on developing content expertise should include: (a) objectives both for the expertise to be gained and also for the products or processes representing the attainment of expertise, (b) methods or activities necessary to the accomplishment of objectives, and (c) evaluation methods and criteria. B. Additional Course Work A student may wish to develop content expertise by choosing to enroll in 6 semester credits of additional course work. Together with an advisor, the student should determine a theme for content area expertise and select courses that support the theme. The courses must be upper-division undergraduate courses or graduate courses. The courses cannot be taken for a pass-fail grade, but they can be taken at other universities. The student must develop a one- to two-page proposal for the additional course work that will be submitted to the student s major advisor for approval by his or her committee. The proposal should state the theme for the content area expertise, the course numbers and titles, semesters during which enrollment will occur, description of the courses including required projects/assignments, and a rationale for why the courses were selected (how they will fulfill the content area theme and how they will benefit the student professionally). The proposal must be approved by the student s graduate committee before enrollment in the courses. At the completion of the additional course work, the student will make a formal presentation (complete with handouts, overhead transparencies, and/or other AV assistance) for his or her advisory committee, describing how the newly acquired content knowledge will be applied in future professional settings. Following the formal presentation, the student will respond to questions from committee members. 3

4 6. Review of Literature This option involves conducting an extensive search for research and theoretical publications that relate to an educational problem in your classroom, school, or district. After relevant sources are located, the student reads and makes notes on each source and then prepares a report that defines the problem and indicates how the review of the literature helps to address the problem. The problems for literature reviews usually come from your own experience and deal with a topic on which you feel you need more information. For example, you may have noticed that certain students in your classes have trouble making friends and decide to find out what the research literature can tell you about them as a teacher. Or, you may have read an article in a popular magazine on teacher burnout and want to know more about the nature and causes of burnout, especially how you can help yourself and colleagues to avoid it. The review should be critical in nature, and based, preferably, on a systematic model for recording and analyzing information from professional journals, books, reports and the like. It should result in conclusions or provide direction with respect to the problem you have identified. (See W. R. Borg, [1987]. Applying Educational Research (2 nd ed.), Chapters 2-5; Gall, Borg, & Gall, [1996]. Educational Research (6 th ed.), Chapter 4; and Leedy & Ormrod, [2001], Practical Research Planning and Design, Chapter 4.) 7. Practicum Internship A six, eight, or ten week internship may be arranged with an organization which is involved with inservice education and/or training. The students project report would consist of a presentation on the experience, including a written document. Objectives regarding knowledge and skills to be acquired by the student, specific activities or tasks associated with the attainment of objectives, and strategies for evaluating the attainment of objectives should be included in the project proposal. In some cases, it should be possible to rewrite the objectives midway through the experience, to more accurately reflect the reality of the internship. (See Barbeau, Stull, & Godfrey. [1997]. Learning from Working: Getting the Most from Your Cooperative Education/Internship Program, Rev. ed.) 8. Electronic Portfolio An electronic portfolio (accessible using a web-page on the World Wide Web) may be developed to show evidence of accomplishment in the form of papers, computer programs, materials designed, and proposals written. The portfolio should be a compilation of the following components: 4

5 A. The best work products produced while completing the degree--the kind of material the student would hope to be judged on if applying for a job. The items displayed in the Web Page should be selected from a much larger number of items, the selection based upon representativeness, but primarily upon quality. These could be assignments completed for one or more classes in the program (which would have previously been graded), projects completed at work that were a direct result of courses that students took, novel projects created for the electronic portfolio only, and finally, a statement reflecting on the entire experience of obtaining the degree. B. A personal statement, which if printed out, would total no more than eight doublespaced typewritten pages, containing the following information. (1) The new skills and capabilities the student has acquired as a result of this program, (2) How the work in this program had an impact on the student s personal and professional life; (3) How the program had an impact upon others (e.g., students in the classroom, co-workers at school or district)? C. A current resume. The portfolio should be available electronically as a personally created and expressive web page. Where possible, web materials should have a strong visual component, helping the viewer to visualize aspects of the work (e.g., photos of the setting where a project was carried out, schematic diagrams of principles involved, etc.). Some project work may not be conducive in its entirety to web display (e.g., video work, a product evaluation or implementation); in these cases, summaries of the work would be appropriate. Evaluation of Portfolio: The portfolio and the Website presentation of the portfolio should be available for perusal by both faculty members and other students. Just as someone presenting at a fair or poster session at a professional conference should be available for comment, the student should expect to receive comments on this work, primarily via , and should be prepared to respond to questions. At some time during the period of public display, the portfolio will be examined in detail by the student s committee and judgment rendered as to suitability as evidence of completion of the portfolio requirement. Options Acceptable to Different Departments 1. Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education: 1, 2, 3, 5B, 6 2. Instructional Technology:

6 3. All other departments will accept work fitting options 1, 2, 3, 4, 5A, 6, 7. 6

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