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Jeanne L

- Research Program Mentor

EdD Doctor of Education


Education, Literature, Race & representation in literature, Children's literature, Literary analysis, Academic writing

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Critical Thinking in Language Arts and Social Studies

This study examines the way teachers help students develop critical thinking skills in Language Arts or Social Studies classes. The researcher collects data over two weeks by observing their high school English or Social Studies class and through teacher interviews. Documenting teacher speech and student response, the researcher will capture the following: - The teacher’s stated and implied goals in their presentation of the lesson or unit; - The teacher’s method of delivering the content and engaging student interest and input; - Formative and Summative assessments that help the teacher gauge student understanding; - Interactions between the teacher and students around the content; - The ways in which the teacher engaged with different groups of students (male, female, racial groups, motivated & not motivated, those who sit in the front vs. those in the back, etc.); and - The ways in which the teacher uses physical proximity to engage students. In addition to observational data, the researcher will interview the teacher. Questions will capture the teacher’s implicit and explicit goals and give the teacher an opportunity to reflect on the outcome of their lesson/unit. The interview will also reveal the teacher’s academic expectations of the students and their ability to tweak and adjust their teaching in order to serve the students’ needs and responses. After establishing a definition of critical thinking and discussing the ways in which it can be demonstrated in a classroom, the researcher might explore these questions after collecting their data: 1. What kind of critical thinking is the teacher expecting from the students? 2. How does the teacher structure the lesson(s) in order to elicit student response? 3. To what extent is discussion included in the lesson(s)? 4. What kinds of questions stimulate students’ thinking about the content? 5. To what extent does the teacher follow up with questions that further probe students’ thinking? 6. To what extent does the teacher’s display in-the-moment flexibility to adjust to students’ responses to the content? 7. In what ways does the teacher respond to or incorporate students’ prior knowledge, beliefs, and assumptions about the content into their teaching? 8. To what extent does the teacher allow for a variety of perspectives and beliefs (either within the content or amongst the students)? This qualitative study requires inductive methods, so the researcher may end up focusing on more specific topics after analysis of the data.

Race and Gender in Young Adult Literature

This study compares issues of gender and/or race in contemporary young adult literature. The researcher chooses three popular YA books and examines the ways in which the author addresses topics such as gender, racial identity, and/or social interactions revolving around race. The researcher can pose the following questions as they interrogate the texts: 1. How does the author present a unique perspective or viewpoint regarding race or gender? 2. To what extent does the author challenge or reinforce conventional thinking around race and gender? 3. To what extent is the author’s work a response to an existing text? 4. To what extent does the author deliver a message about these topics? 5. To what extent is that message implicit or explicit? 6. Considering that the author is most likely an adult, how accurate is their depiction of issues around gender and/or race? (The researcher would probably insert their own experiences and observations about these topics in their own lives.) This study can also target children’s books or young adult books from different decades. For example, one could compare “The Indian in the Cupboard” (1980) by Lynne Reid Banks to “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” (2007) by Sherman Alexie.

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