Inquiry Project

Within the framework of the culminating project, students may choose to do one of the following inquiry projects:

  • Classroom Curriculum/Instruction project
  • Implementation of an Educational Project Responding to a Community Need
  • Research Project 

Classroom Curriculum/Instruction Projects

Classroom curriculum/instruction projects are usually focused on improvement of curriculum and instruction within a teacher's own classroom. In the context of the proposal (BEDUC 597) the student describes what they want to improve, why they consider the improvement needed, and how they intend to accomplish the improvement.

Example: A teacher wants her 5th grade social studies curriculum to rely less on the textbook and more on primary sources and historical biographies. She also wants her students engaged in more investigation and group work using these sources. She has evaluated her existing curriculum and finds that it does not engage the students beyond surface understandings; she anticipates that the curricular and instructional changes she envisions will provide an improved learning environment for her students.

Gathering data for program evaluation can also be interpreted as conducting research. When data are analyzed, often the results are provocative. These results can be generalized beyond the classroom, or be published.  Classroom curriculum/instruction projects will be reviewed in the Education Program using a Certification of Exemption. These Certifications are administratively reviewed by the UW Human Subjects Devision. Certification of Exemption may not include recording information for academic records, audio taping/videotaping, or focusing on a subpopulation within a classroom.

Implementation of an Educational Project Responding to a Community Need

Implementation of an educational project responding to a community need can take many forms.

Sometimes a teacher is offered an opportunity within her school district to take a leadership role in developing and implementing a change within the school district community.

Example: The district has decided to revamp its focus and approach in the teaching of science. A teacher is offered the opportunity to lead this effort by examining the current state of science teaching within the district, surveying the teachers regarding their attitudes toward the existing science program, and then developing a plan of action with a group of teachers that would involve piloting some aspect of a refocused science program.

Other times a teacher may become involved in an after-school program that offers enrichment opportunities for students.

Example: A teacher sees the need for students in her school to have greater access to the arts. She works with a small group of interested parents to design, implement, and assess an after-school drama program.

A teacher might also become involved with a project that initiates a teacher study group, organizes school volunteers to contribute more effectively to classroom learning, or connects the work in the school with work in a local museum or library or their informal learning environment.

Educational projects responding to a community need will be reviewed in the Education Program using a Certification of Exemption. These Certifications are administratively reviewed by the UW Human Subjects Division. Certification of Exemption may not include recording information for academic records, audio taping/videotaping, or focusing on a subpopulation in a classroom.

Research Project

Research involving classroom-based activities includes a research question and an intention to generalize the results of the research collected beyond the classroom, department or school.

Examples: A research project investigated the question: "What are the characteristics and conditions that support "successful" writing groups?" The graduate researcher used a series of questionnaires and tape-recorded interviews with selected adult writing groups involved in the Puget Sound Writing Project Summer Invitational Institute.

A second research project investigated the question: "How do a Native American fourth-grade student and a Native American High School Student working together in a cross-age tutoring pair, construct meaning from the fourth grader's classroom assigned reading text?" The graduate researcher was working with a special subpopulation in seeking insights to her research question.

Research involving graduate students as subjects often is not eligible for exemption status and must undergo at least expedited review by the Human Subjects Committee. If students are pursuing a research project, it is imperative to work closely with the advisor to ascertain the process that needs to be followed in conjunction with Human Subjects review.