Research Proposal

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Research Proposal

  1. 1. A PROPOSAL TO RESEARCH HOW PRACTICE IN THE CLASSROOM CAN AFFECT LEARNERS’ BRAINS AND THEIR KNOWLEDGE RETENTION Prepared by Jessica Hollon English 4010, Technical Writing in the Professions Prepared for Meg VB Wood Student Research Opportunities 306 Hoyt Hall University of Wyoming Laramie, WY 82071 November 4, 2009
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary...............................................................................................................iii Introduction .........................................................................................................................1 Subject and Purpose....................................................................................................1 Background and Problem............................................................................................1 Benefits.......................................................................................................................2 Qualifications .........................................................................................................................3 Research Plan .........................................................................................................................4 Research Objectives....................................................................................................4 Research Methods.......................................................................................................4 Deliverables................................................................................................................5 What Research Will Not Cover..................................................................................5 Timeline .........................................................................................................................6 Research Costs........................................................................................................................6 Conclusion .........................................................................................................................7 Appendix A: .........................................................................................................................8 Survey .........................................................................................................................8 Appendix B: .......................................................................................................................10 Tentative Bibliography.........................................................................................................10 ii
  3. 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In recent years brain based learning has become a research topic in the area of education. As this topic came to the forefront of educational research, the issue of practice time given within the work day in classrooms has been continuously discussed as possibly improving students’ learning and knowledge retention. At Douglas Intermediate School, the decision to schedule time for students to simply have guided practice of reading and math skills has been hard to do. With so many topics to cover, some teachers feel as though there is no time for students to explore and practice concepts without being immediately graded on these topics. If research were to be done into how this guided practice can contribute to solid learning, then teachers may feel less trepidation about scheduling this time into their day. My proposed research would address four questions: 1. How does practice affect the brain? 2. On average, how much practice time do teachers in the levels of third through fifth grade at Douglas Intermediate School give for daily practice (that is ungraded) in reading and math? 3. What programs and/or curriculums are available at Douglas Intermediate School to aid in students’ guided practice? 4. How might this new information affect how teachers structure their students’ day? Both primary and secondary research will be used to answer the above questions. A survey will be given to all teachers at Douglas Intermediate School to access how they use guided practice in their classrooms. Secondary research will include statistics on student knowledge retention at these grade levels, current research on brain based learning, as well as research on classroom best practices. The estimated cost of this research totals $560.00. I urge SRO to approve this research proposal so that the staff at Douglas Intermediate School, as well as schools elsewhere, may use this research to improve their teaching practices. When these teaching practices are of the highest possible quality, students’ learning can also be of this superior quality. iii
  4. 4. INTRODUCTION Subject and Purpose I am proposing to research the effects of guided practice time within a classroom setting on students’ knowledge retention in the areas of math and reading (in the third through fifth grade classroom). Specifically I will address how this guided practice can affect a student’s brain, the amount of time teachers at Douglas Intermediate School currently give for this type of practice, and the available programs and/or curriculums that can be used to aid in guided practice within a classroom setting. This research will provide relevant information on what teachers can do in regards to restructuring their students’ day to best help students retain knowledge. This research will benefit all teachers at Douglas Intermediate School, as well as any teacher wishing to have more information on how guided practice in the areas of reading and math can affect students’ learning. Background and Problem In recent years, what has come to be called brain based learning has been a major topic of discussion in education. The study of brain based learning is essentially how different classroom and teaching techniques can affect students’ brains. Much research on the effects of different techniques on students’ brains has lead to a lot of discussion on implementing different types of guided practice within classrooms. Research has already shown that, “Practice builds neurological connections and thickens the insulating myelin sheath necessary for fluency, chunking of information, brain efficiency, and deep learning” (Hill, 2006). However, teachers at Douglas Intermediate School, as well as other schools, find it hard to justify giving time for 1
  5. 5. students to practice skills when there is pressure to cover so many topics in a short amount of time. I propose to not only conduct more research on how practice within a classroom can affect a student’s brain through secondary research methods, but to also research how teachers at Douglas Intermediate School are already using practice and what is available for them to further this type of valuable practice within their own classrooms. The research into practices of the teachers at Douglas Intermediate School, and the available programs and/or curriculums they can utilize will be a form of primary research. All research will be done in the area of reading where, “In all grades, 1-12, research shows independent reading practice is important to build vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing, and higher-order thinking skills” (Anderson, 1988) and in the area of math because, “Research shows that to be effective in building a math skill, practice must be coupled with instruction to assure students are successful at a high level” (Topping, 2000). Benefits My research will primarily benefit the students. This research will help teachers, who are secondary beneficiaries, to better structure their students’ time in the classroom. This in turn will be a benefit to students who may be able to better learn and retain knowledge because of a restructuring of practice time within their classroom. Other secondary beneficiaries will be administrators of schools that may be able to better use available curriculum and programs. If students are able to be more successful because of the teachers’ use of guided practice then the administrators will also be more successfully and be leading a top notch school. 2
  6. 6. Qualifications I am a third grade teacher at Douglas Intermediate School, where the primary research for this project will take place. I have firsthand experience with teaching and access to teachers, students, and available curriculums and programs. I have been in the educational profession for seven years and have a passion for bettering education for all students. I am a very organized, goal oriented person. I have also been involved in successful research projects prior to this. I can plan, execute, and report accurately on this research and benefit the educational community as a whole. 3
  7. 7. RESEARCH PLAN This proposed plan outlines the objectives I will address through my research as well as the methods I will use to research these objectives. A cost breakdown is also available along with a time table that I will follow when conducting this research. Research Objectives After my research is complete, there will be an understanding of how practice affects students’ learning and knowledge retention in the areas of reading and math. There will also be documentation of how teachers at Douglas Intermediate School already are and can in the future effectively use practice within their own classrooms. Through this research I will answer the following questions: • How practice of concepts can affect a person’s brain? • How much time teachers, on average, at Douglas Intermediate School currently given for ungraded student practice of reading and math concepts? • What available curriculums and/or programs are there for use in guided practice? • How might teachers restructure their days to allow for guided practice within their classrooms? Research Methods Practice’s effects on the brain Researching what effects practice has on a human’s brain will be a type of secondary research. This research will consist of consulting past and recent research on the topic of brain based teaching, the formation of the human brain, and best teaching practices within a classroom setting. 4
  8. 8. Current amount of time teachers at Douglas Intermediate School devote to guided practice, the available curriculum and programs to aid in guided practice, and how teachers could restructure their days to implement more guided practice. This will be a form of primary research. It will consist of surveying the teachers at Douglas Intermediate School on how they currently use practice. This survey will also address what curriculum and programs they use as aids during this time and how this time is structured within their specific classrooms. The type of survey being used will be an open-ended survey so that teachers can respond to and add their own feelings, thoughts, and personal information about their classrooms. There will also be a realm of secondary research, where I will research current available curriculums that have research based data to show they aid with guided practice. I will research curriculums in both the areas of reading and math. Deliverables Once the above research is complete, a detailed report of the research, as well as the findings and recommendations, will be delivered to the administrator of Douglas Intermediate School for distribution to the staff. This same detailed report will also be delivered to SRO. What This Research Will Not Cover This research will not cover how schools other than Douglas Intermediate School use guided practice. It will also not cover curriculum or data on guided practice outside of the areas of reading and math. 5
  9. 9. Timeline The following table provides a detailed timeline of the proposed research project. 10/21 – 10/25 Review current research on brain based learning and guided practice within a classroom setting 10/26 Design survey to be given to teachers 10/27 Draft research proposal and budget 10/29 Submit Research Proposal 11/2 Hand out survey to teachers at Douglas Intermediate School 11/2 – 11/6 Research curriculums and programs that aid in guided practice 11/6 Collect completed teacher surveys 11/7 – 11/9 Analyze survey responses 11/10-11/17 Draft final recommendation for Douglas Intermediate School 11/23 Finalize recommendation report 12/3 Submit final Recommendation Report Research Costs The above research can be completed for the total cost of $560.00. A detailed budget is provided below. Research Hours Secondary Research 5 Primary Research: Survey Design/Administration 4 Interpretation of Research 8 Total Hours 17 Cost per Hour $30.00 Hourly Cost $510.00 Additional Expenses: copies, binding, Transport, materials $50.00 Total Research Costs $560.00 6
  10. 10. Conclusion The proposed research will help teachers at Douglas Intermediate School best teach their students. It will provide them with the knowledge of best practices, brain based learning, and the effects guided practice can have within a classroom. It will also allow these teachers to see how their colleagues structure practice within their classrooms and what available curriculums and programs can help with their structuring. I urge SRO to accept this research proposal to benefit the teachers, and most importantly, the students at Douglas Intermediate School. 7
  11. 11. Survey of How Guided Practice is Currently Used In the Areas of Reading and Math Prepared by Jessica Hollon This survey’s purpose is to gather data that will help determine how teachers at Douglas Intermediate School are currently using practice time that is ungraded for reading and math. It is also gathering data on and what curriculums and programs are currently being utilized. What reading curriculum(s) are you currently using in your classroom? What is the average block of time you teach reading each day? What amount of this time (on average) is used for students to explore and practice their reading skills? Is this reading practice independent or guided? Describe how this reading practice time is structured in your classroom. Is this reading practice graded? What Math curriculum(s) are you currently using within your classroom? How much time on average do you spend teaching math each day? 8
  12. 12. What amount of this time (on average) is used for students to explore and practice their math skills? Is this math practice independent or guided? Describe how this math practice time is structured in your classroom. Is this practice graded? If you could use other types of programs or curriculums for reading and math what would you use and why? 9
  13. 13. TENTATIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, R. C. “Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School.” Reading Research Quarterly, 23.3 (1988): 285-303. Hill, N. M. Brain Changes in the Development of Expertise. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Hollon, J. L. Survey of How Guided Practice is Currently Used in The Areas of Reading and Math. 26 October 2009. Topping, K. J. “Teacher Effectiveness and Computer Assessment of Reading and Math: Relating Value-Added Learning Information Systems Data.” School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 11.3 (2000): 305-337. 10

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