Bobby Shaddox HTH 210: Action Research Design & Methods March 18, 2012 Research Design (Draft #1) Research Purpose

Alfie Kohn says, “Some teachers pride themselves on designing an entire curriculum in advance and giving it to the students on the first day in a nicely typed syllabus. Their approach is like ‘Here’s my class. Now I’m going to do it to you.’” Kohn begs us to ask ourselves as teachers, “Shouldn’t students have a say in what they’re about to learn?” I’ll never forget the moment that I delivered my first syllabus for a project to a group of 8th graders. I was met with a mix of looks ranging from excitement, disappointment and even anger. Presenting that syllabus, inflicting those learning requirements and deadlines, without once considering the class’ interests or opinions, made me feel uncomfortable. In that moment, I realized the unfair balance of power in the classroom. Since that first project I’ve been on a quest to more closely meet the needs, interests and passions of all students through projects. This year I’ve experimented with various forms of democratic project design, but haven’t really hit a stride. Now, I want to deepen my understanding of collaborative design through reading and research in my own classroom. I want to raise my students’ sense of engagement, deepen their understanding and spark their sense of inquiry in projects. I think that giving them more voice and choice will increase this. I want to spend a semester doing projects/activities that are collaboratively designed with my students. I plan to use extensive brainstorms, peer critique and project tuning protocols to increase their involvement in how we design our learning experiences together. I’ll especially be on the look out for evidence of changes in sense of engagement, deeper learning and an increased sense of inquiry (wonder). Research Question What happens when I collaboratively design projects with students? Sub-Questions How do you define collaborative design? How do you define a “deeper understanding” of content? What are different models of collaborative design? How much control should students have in collaborative design? What constitutes a project? How do you measure student engagement? What were the levels of student engagement like prior to beginning a collaboratively designed project? Have students experienced collaborative design before? What are their attitudes about projects (before/after)? How do you make sure everyone’s voice is heard in the process of collaborative design? Possible Actions Introduce students to the concepts behind PBL. Critique exemplary projects and their designs. Collaboratively design and implement 2 projects. Utilize project tuning protocols. Implement peer critiques of project design and work.

Data Collection • Interview students before, during and after the completion of collaboratively designed projects. • Students will reflect on their engagement, thinking and inquiries through a reflective journal. • Students will be surveyed before and after the completion of collaboratively designed projects. • Students will be given a pre-assessment and post assessment of learning (skills, concepts) from the project. • An anecdotal note sheet will be used to capture teacher observations daily. • Students will communicate their interests, inquiries and learning via exit cards on a weekly basis. Data Analysis After collecting the data from our project #1, I will look for what’s working (bright spots) and consider the trouble spots. I’ll focus primarily on engagement, critical thinking and inquiry. However, I need to be on the look out for any unintended areas of growth or interest. I’ll utilize these observations to plan my next steps with project #2. Timeline August • Introduction to PBL • Critique of exemplary projects • Plan & begin Project #1 • Pre-assessment of Project #1 September • Reflective journals, Interview students, Surveys October • Reflective journals, Interview students, Surveys • Exhibition of Project #1 • Final assessment of Project #1 • Plan and begin Project #2 • Pre-assessment of Project #2 November • Reflective journals, Interview students, Surveys December • Reflective journals, Interview students, Surveys January • Reflective journals, Interview students, Surveys • Final assessment of Project #2 • Exhibition of Project #2 • Final data collection and analysis

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