research proposal abstract

research proposal abstract

Research Proposal: Enhancing Educational Methods for Student Success

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1. Introduction

1.1.3 The quality of the student learning experience Institutions are coming under increasing pressure to provide evidence of the quality of their programs and their effectiveness in facilitating student learning. An important driver for this has been the introduction of tuition fees and the promotion of a consumer ethos in higher education. Recent years have seen the gradual introduction of systems for teaching quality assessment and the use of student satisfaction surveys and other feedback mechanisms. Studies show that student satisfaction with their higher education experience is strongly linked to their sense of belonging in the institution and their perceived integration in the academic and social systems. High levels of dissatisfaction are associated with non-completion. In line with this research, we recently conducted an investigation into continuing students’ and recent graduates’ perceptions and experiences of the chemistry undergraduate degree at Southampton. The study showed that for many students, the most valued experiences were not those associated with learning course content, but interactions with staff and other students, particularly those taking part in the research project or MChem degree. Unsurprisingly, overall satisfaction with the chemistry degree was lower for students who did not complete the full MChem degree, and there were indications that frustration over changing degree requirements had contributed to non-completion.

1.1.2 The shift from teaching to learning In the past, the focus of much educational research has been on comparing outcomes of different teaching methods, an approach informed by an interest in identifying the best ways to enhance student learning. More recently, there has been a shift to research that focuses on student learning. This in part reflects a growing consensus that high quality student learning is the product of high quality teaching. It has also been driven by a realization that approaches to learning are influenced by the educational context, and that student well-being and the quality of the learning experience are strongly linked to educational outcomes.

1. Introduction 1.1 Background 1.1.1 Changing student profile The nature of further and higher education is changing. At all levels, students from a wide range of social and academic backgrounds are entering colleges and universities. Many seek to acquire vocational qualifications and skills. There has also been an increase in the number of mature students entering higher education. These students bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, but many lack the study skills and the confidence necessary to succeed in higher education.

Proposed title: Enhancing educational methods for student success

2. Literature Review

The slow learning students too have a harsh time in coping with studies. Dhar et al (2009) say that very little attention is given to these students, which makes them dread studies even more. Tappin (2008) puts forth another argument that the present mode of evaluation is not very effective in understanding the true potential of the students as it evaluates only the memory of the student and not his understanding of the subject.

Research by Maheswari, Saraswati, and Malarvizhi (2007) states the need for delivering the lecture through appropriate methods and aids, such that students can understand and internalize the content. It also adds to it that the present form of teaching consists of a monotonous lecturing session only, which is not enough to entice the students to learn. Bell (1993) and Choudhry (2003) reinforce the need for conducting interactive sessions where the lecturers and the students have an interchange of ideas and critical questions, that will promote better understanding of the subject and long-term retention. This kind of atmosphere is completely missing in the classrooms today.

Recently, education is undergoing a crucial change. Given the development of the educational system, the students too have changed. From the continuous study of the field, a drastic change has been observed, both in the students and their approach towards studies. In spite of these changes, Khanna (1999) finds that the method of teaching adopted in the classroom has undergone minimal or no change at all. The claim can be validated if we look at the changing trends of the students today. Earlier, students used to pay full attention to the lecture and taking notes because the books were rare and they were the only source of info on various topics. This is in contrast to today’s style, where the books are available in abundance and the young minds simply refuse to concentrate in one place for too long. This shift in attitude can be attributed to the fact that the present form of teaching is not interesting to the students (Blossom, 1999).

3. Methodology

There are a few reasons why this is an excellent initial step to the research. According to Cohen et al., interviews provide face validity to findings and are thus more powerful than questionnaires in the public eye. Also, interviews relevant to the context of the study can yield a wealth of information on a previously unresearched topic. These interviews will provide qualitative evidence to changes in the learning environment over the years. They will also provide evidence of what methods are most effective from the perspectives of different education stakeholders.

Qualitative Research – The first step in discovering which methods are most effective will be a series of interviews with teachers, parents, and students that have demonstrated to be effective in a school setting. Using a semi-structured format, teachers will be hired asking questions based on what constitutes student success, whether they have observed student success in their years of teaching, the methods they feel are most effective in fostering said success, and what changes they have observed to the learning environment over the years. Similar questions will be asked of the parents involved in the study. High school students that have participated in a gifted program shown to be successful will also be interviewed, as well as students that have participated in special needs programs. The interviews with the students will compare what they feel is best for their learning. All interviews will be recorded and transcribed for analysis at a later time.

3.1 Preliminary Interviews

In order to determine the most effective educational methods, the proposed research will employ both quantitative and qualitative methods. By collecting and analyzing both types of data, the research will gain a more comprehensive understanding of why certain methods work better than others. The following section outlines the specific methods proposed for this research.

4. Expected Results

The expected results of this action research study will be an increased awareness of students’ diverse learning styles, improved teaching methods, and classroom learning activities specifically designed to address these differences, and increased student achievement. Specifically, the project aims to continue successful learning styles programs currently being implemented in the schools and work to infuse the principles of these programs into all educational experiences for students. Results should include many changes in instructional strategies, teaching behaviors, and the overall learning environment. These changes should give all students greater access to the curriculum. Data-driven results from the study should also lead to staff development programs for other students and alternative schools. With high rates of student success, the methods developed should come to influence teaching and learning throughout the district and serve as a model for state and possibly federal requirements and future educational standards. Comparisons of test scores, discipline records, and other pertinent data from the previous two years will act as a baseline for the collection of data regarding student achievement and provide a measure of the success of the research project and programs developed. Ongoing feedback from students, parents, and teachers should show improvements in student attitudes towards learning and school, confidence levels, and self-esteem due to greater success in the learning process.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, educational success is currently measured solely on how students perform on standardized tests. This concept is flawed and is not preparing our students to compete in a global society. Many of the students who perform poorly are being left behind in order to increase the standings of the schools. A new approach to assessment of educational success must be taken, one which will ensure that all students are learning. This proposal for a study suggests that the changes in methods of education have the potential to greatly increase the success of students from all backgrounds. In order to have a knowledgeable society, one that is respectful, understanding, and integrated, improvements must be made to the system we have now.

The conclusion of this proposal is that an education paradigm change is necessary. In order for a global society such as ours to compete and advance, our future leaders will need more than the “basics.” Although we have already begun to make changes regarding standardized testing, more needs to be done to ensure that we are preparing our students for their futures. This proposal suggests that a change in the funding of our educational systems is necessary. Instead of putting money into programs or facilities, money needs to go to hiring quality teachers and ensuring that the foundation of our educational system, the children, are making adequate progress. Accomplishing this will require a systemic change and incentive for teachers to excel in which NCLB is not currently providing.

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