JCM's Teacher Research Site
School of Education, Seattle University
The purpose of this page is to help
decide (or narrow down) your research topic
to one that makes sense to you and is possible
to complete before the heat death of the Universe.
Possible negative effects of Ritalin What do teachers
Are too many kids on Ritalin? think/feel
Are parents/professionals too about effects
quick to ask for Ritalin? of Ritalin?
The Montessori method
Do 5's with 2 or more
Effects of Montessori years of experience
What are strengths of M? in AMS-affliated
have higher Math
in non-M preschools?
It's impossible to work on the design of a study until
you have narrowed it down to a particular question.
It also helps if you have done some thinking about the
particular group of people you are interested in
studying (the population).
Question 2: Have you chosen a question which
answered by research?
Is Islam the one true faith?
Is "A Starry Night" the greatest painting ever done?
What was W. H. Kilpatrick's mental and emotional
state during his trip to Rome and his subsequent
writing of The Montessori System Examined?
Do teachers make the right decisions in choosing
reading methods for first graders?
Is phonics the best method for teaching reading?
In general, topics involving religion, art, music, etc.,
can't be answered with research. (You can research how
much paintings sell for, or how many critics feel that a
particular painting is the best, but these are not the same as
deciding that a painting is "the best"). Questions of values
can be examined if you are asking what values people hold;
but not if your question itself is a value judgment. Avoid
words like "right" or "best" and get more specific.
3. Do you have a topic that is worth your effort?
(Test this by asking peers about your idea.)
Is my bulletin board boring? What makes a bulletin
Should I use slides from
What percent of
my trip to France in my state foreign
French class? language teachers
use their own slides?
Do children who are
Do children who
in foster care because have low self-esteem
of being abused by have poorer
parents have lower attendance?
Do high school students
What are ways in which
who are given their own high schools have tried
horse (with all costs covered) to improve self-esteem
to care for have higher of students?
Studies that are too personal, or cover too small a topic
are sometimes not worth the effort of designing and carrying
out the research. Studies that seem to ask a question to which
the answer is obvious are also of questionable worth. Studies
which examine the effects of things which can change (like
teaching methods or class size) are generally more appropriate
than studies of things which can't be changed (Socioeconomic
status, experience of teachers, etc.) Studies of rare occurrences
or unrealistic special programs are also of limited worth.
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