Propose an empirical research project that investigates a specific aspect of the college experience at Santa Clara University, which you'll carry out in CTW2. "Empirical" means based on original data you collect, in the form of surveys, interviews, observations, artifacts, etc (or a combination of these sources). As you develop your proposal, keep in mind some basic guidelines:
Ensure that your research question, site, and methods match: You must be able to answer your research question in the site you've identified, using the methods you describe.
You'll gather your data for this project at SCU in the first 5 weeks of Winter quarter: Keep this time frame in mind as you form your research question, choose your research site, and plan your research methods.
Don't plan to collect students' protected personal information from teachers or programs: Because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), you can ask participants directly about their grades, samples of their academic work, finances, etc, but don't plan access this information indirectly via others.
The CTW2 research project is designed to support your learning in several ways that support your success in this class and beyond. It will:
- Kick off the development of your CTW2 research project, around which your work next quarter will focus. This project will shift you from being a research consumer to a research producer who must deal with the messiness of data and participate in the construction of knowledge.
- Prepare you for the kind of original research you'll do in future classes in your major and (eventually) in your honors thesis.
- Develop skills in audience- and genre-defined writing that require you to think and write creatively and effectively within constraints, putting into practice the rhetorical knowledge we've learned about via analyzing others' writing.
- Practice the kind of collaborative, project-based work that characterizes most workplaces: dividing responsibilities equitably and making sure each team member has chances to take on challenges that promote their learning and provide recognition for their contributions.
Your audience for this project is a potential funding agency supporting your research, represented by me. You'll choose a specific funding agency whose mission fits your project (see list below), and your proposal should appeal to the agency's focus and priorities. In addition to the funding agency's specific mission, proposal reviewers focus on:
- The significance of the research: does the proposal identify a legitimate problem, convincingly argue for its seriousness, and offer compelling solutions to it?
- The fit between problem and proposed solution: how well does your proposed research address the problem you've identified?
- The feasibility of the research: how likely is the project to succeed in answering the research question(s) it poses?
- The fit between the project and the funding agency's mission and/or specific initiatives: is this the right place to pitch this project?
Funding agencies & opportunities:
How & Where:
You'll use the proposal genre for this assignment. This genre is formal in tone, addressing an audience of research experts (proposal reviewers) and presenting the proposal authors as fellow experts on the topic. Proposals typically include the following rhetorical "moves," often used to organize the document into sections:
Problem statement, leading to research question(s): explain the exigence of your project: what gap, misconception, outdated idea, or new phenomenon are you proposing to study? what's already known about this issue, and why is this existing information incorrect/incomplete? what will your research add, leading to your research question(s)?
- Cite research from course thematic readings and/or independent research to explain the problem and set up how your research addresses it
Research plan: how will you answer your research question(s) to address the problem you've posed? describe the methods you'll use, the specific site at SCU where you'll carry them out, and the schedule for conducting your research. address all practical and ethical challenges associated with your methods and site.
- use local, SCU-specific sources to describe the research site and demonstrate its suitability for your research questions
- don't include your entire research instruments (survey/interview questions, observation protocols, etc) in the proposal--you'll draft those separately as the "Research Instruments" part of the Participant-Facing Documents assignment
Significance of proposed research: how will your research 1) contribute to knowledge about this issue and 2) benefit stakeholders (and which specific stakeholders)?
- [Most proposals also include a budget detailing research expenses, but we're skipping this part of the genre because you're working without a research budget]
11/13: introduce assignment, review sample proposals, develop project ideas, form research teams
11/15: draft research questions & methods due, in-class peer feedback on project ideas, work with partner to begin drafting proposal
- 11/26-11/30: optional conferences with instructor (see sign-up sheet)
11/27: rough draft of proposal due, research ethics & instruments
11/29: drafts of participant-facing documents (research instrument(s), consent form, recruitment materials) due, field testing of these documents
12/4: proposal final draft due