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Ed 994 THESIS SEMINAR SYLLABUS
Developing An Action Research Project & Thesis
Chad C. Osborne
Phone: (805) 687-3488 [Santa Barbara, CA]
What a scary word, "Thesis." Think about some of the fears and resistance that "thesis" brings up. A principal aim of the course is to give you an experience in doing Action Research that will change your feelings about research and open a number of windows and doors for you, both personally and professionally.
Research in the social sciences (including Education) faces a major problem in applying experimental methods to studies. The subjects are too complex, too random, and too individual to allow precise, scientific measurement. The preferred solution to this problem has been to adapt ethnographic techniques of cultural anthropology, and use "Action Research" to deal with the complexity and interactive effects among students, teachers, curriculum, school policies, social and other factors, etc.
Your Action Research Project/Thesis will concern some aspect of your work with students, something that bears both personal and professional importance for you. You may consider prior graduate course work, particularly the previous research course you took, to develop ideas. Brainstorming and Journal writing will tap your intuitive wisdom of what would be right for you.
Brainstorming, Journal Writing,
Internet Sites and Searches from course site
Sharing questions and responses,
Review of relevant literature,
And e-mail consultations
JOURNAL is a weekly entry narrative of your project/thesis process, your feelings and perceptions.
COURSE TEXT: TEACHERS DOING RESEARCH, 2nd ed. by Burnaford, et al.
READ AT THE RATE OF ONE CHAPTER PER WEEK.
ASSESSMENT: Journal/ Portfolio of Sites You Reprint/Consultation = 40%
Marshall McLuhan said, "We shape our tools; thereafter, our tools shape us." Have video and computer games, e-mail and cell phones, MTV and the Internet re-shaped student learning styles? Two articles suggesting such shaping has taken place are
Advocates of school reform would do well to consider the "Hard Truths,” the “deep structure of schooling,” Barbara Benham Tye explores in her book by this title (Teachers College Press, 2000). Consistent with the failure of past reform cycles to last beyond a three to five year cycle, and the lack of transfer of successful practices from one context to another, Tye’s insights help explain why what can hope to be changed in schools are the “personality factors”—moving pieces around within a box. The box, the deep structure, is not simply the factory-like structure of school organization, or the persistence of teacher-centered classroom traditions. Tye asserts it is the “conventional wisdom” of unexamined assumptions held in our culture. The ones she enumerates are
Schools are chaotic, dangerous places.
Teaching is an easy job, with lots of time off.
Too much money is spent on schools.
Schools today are not doing a good job of teaching the basics.
A quiet classroom is one where learning is taking place.
The most effective teaching is traditional frontal, and teacher-directed.
Children should be grouped by age and ability.
Parents should participate in running the schools.
Given these unexamined assumptions, and the influence they have in current society, is it any wonder that we have growing movements in