Critical/Research Questions

Hi Everyone,

Please list your topics and discuss them in the blog below.

Go and have some fun!

Here is the link to What Works Clearinghouse that will help you begin to dig in to your topic.

Here is and article by Lynn and Doug Fuchs that describes all the required components of a research article: How_To_Write_Up_a_Research_Report_-_Fuchs

56 Responses to Critical/Research Questions

  1. lynn3392 says:

    I am looking at the effectiveness of different STEM teaching pedagogy.

  2. gang4513 says:

    I have considered a few different topics and I think I will start with the following: What are the consequences/side effects of standardized testing? These annual tests create stress and increased anxiety in many students. In some states the pay/bonus of a teacher may be affected by the scores of their students. There is a loss of class time–taking the test and teaching to the test. Large corporations profit from the sale of these tests to school districts. What data is the testing providing, is it beneficial to the school?

  3. norr4573 says:

    Im really interested in studying the effects of growth mindset on student achievement. I want to know what it does when students believe the brain is plastic and moldable and can always learn new things.

  4. emer3389 says:

    I have recently committed to getting my endorsement in secondary science. I am very interested in comparing the differences and effects on religious based science compared to evolutionary science. Examples are private Christian schools that teach science based off the earth being 10,000 years old vs. 5 billion years old. I will have to get creative on how I evaluate the two, however, I am excited to learn the history of science within the education system. I would also like to make it clear that I do not have a bias regarding either approach.

  5. vand7393 says:

    I am entering this profession as a PE teacher and preferably I will be teaching weights class at the high school level and coaching. I am interested in researching how to establish a safe culture in the weight room. What that means is I want to study when is the right age for kids to start learning how to lift weights and what exercises are best to teach them first and how do I make them feel comfortable with there form and technique. I have already found some pretty good stuff and I look forward to sharing it all with you guys next month.
    Thanks, Tyler

  6. Phoenix says:

    The cultural assumptions about what high intelligence in young children looks like does not generally overlap with what we imagine what we think of learning disabled children. And despite their high intelligence, these children really do need assistance.

    I want to know how gender can be a barrier for identification as 2e and/or affect learning outcomes, ie,

    Does a 2e student’s gender influence teacher expectations about her/his abilities?

    Do teachers assess and assist 2e students differently based on gender?

    Are 2e boys more likely to be seen as troublemakers or labeled as having attention deficits?

    Are 2e girls less likely to express higher intelligence and thus go unidentified?

    What other gendered learning assumptions can affect 2e students getting the support they need?

    That seems like a lot of questions! Mostly I want to see what the data has to say and build around that.

  7. kenn6317 says:

    All aspects of nutrition and physical activity interest me. Both of these categories directly correlate with one another and are important for overall well being. For my topic, I’m going to research childhood obesity and discover all avenues that lead to this epidemic. I hope to learn a great deal from researching this topic, and use my discoveries to help fight this trend in the classroom by educating students.

  8. TJ says:

    I am here for Health and P.E. and my topics of interest revolve around obesity, nutrition, and how it applies to injuries or self esteem. I do currently teach (coach) kids aged 12-17 CrossFit and have found that no matter how or why they came through the doors that after spending some time in classes around other kids their age in a positive environment that they enjoy it more. They have given me an inspiration to find out and learn more so that I can go on and help more kids. These are quite general but I’m sure as I read more articles I will be able to focus in on something more direct. I know that there are some others here (Kyle, Maddie, and Jasmine) with similar interests so excited to share ideas.

    • kenn6317 says:

      I too am interested in obesity and am hoping to use my findings in the classroom when we start teaching. I’m looking forward to sharing resources and seeing what types of data our classmates come up with since a few of us have similar topics.

  9. mccl5095 says:

    I would like to learn about environmental literacy in the classroom – how does one become environmentally literate? And how can that be implemented in the classroom? How can a curriculum target students’ ability to consider the relationship between human and natural systems in order to think critically about real-world issues, as well as traditional subjects like history, science, math, and language arts?
    Not only am I thinking about how to incorporate outdoor and garden education into the school day, but how to relate nearly every aspect of curriculum to the environment, whether that be the planet’s oceans or a local river. How would that sort of education affect the student’s connection to community, history, health, problem solving, etc? I think this gets at cross-curriculum connections, teaching from a whole perspective rather than a parts perspective.
    I’m also intrigued by how this sort of teaching would affect students’ health, physically and mentally. What affect does spending more time outside have on kids? How do their perspectives change when they can recognize aspects of their local ecosystems? How would a teacher foster an optimistic outlook and a desire to make positive change amongst the students? For example, climate change is huge problem, so big most people have no idea where to start. How can a classroom create a space for students to develop skills for solving problems and working collaboratively and feel empowered to tackle these challenges? Can this knowledge be empowering, rather than debilitating?

  10. monn4522 says:

    I would like to focus my research on using interdisciplinary methods to teach social studies and language arts. More specifically, I want to study how the use of narratives and document-based instruction can be utilized in both subjects. I will also try to weave my interest in using emerging technology in the classroom into my research… somehow.

    Some questions I will explore might include:
    How does the use of narratives (both fictional and historical) in the classroom affect the ability of students to meet learning targets in both language arts and social studies?
    Where do the fields of language arts and social studies intersect?
    Is it useful to combine the instruction of these topics whenever possible?
    How might a teacher combine the instruction of these two disciplines to maximize classroom productivity and student achievement?
    How is knowledge from interdisciplinary instruction assimilated? Is it different than traditional classroom instruction?

  11. jesse says:

    Hello everyone.
    The topic I am most interested in studying is related to teaching Philosophy in schools. Particularly, to see if taking Philosophy courses has any effect on graduation rates, college acceptance rates, college graduation rates, future successes, etc.

    I also think it would be really interesting to ask this same question for inmates, either those still receiving public education, or those trying to earn a GED. Whether there is any effect on future successes outside of prison, or if there is any effect on recidivism.

  12. pitt2892 says:

    The topic that I have been mulling over the most is classroom management and the techniques involved with being an effective authority figure. I am thinking about narrowing it to possibly classroom management in relationship with disruptive children or maybe those with an attention disorder? Do you think there will be enough out there to focus this specifically?

  13. mick4682 says:

    I will be focusing on touch math or touch point math for the research project. I think “evaluation research” will be best suited here due to the fact that this is already in schools today. I want to look at the effectiveness of this touch math curriculum with kids that are pre-adding and subtracting so mostly likely kinder or 1st as well as Special Needs. Maybe comparing this to other alternate curriculums might be useful to find what works best.

  14. Jake says:

    I am particularly intrigued about researching how to incorporate a more hands-on and service-learning based curriculum in our public schools, particularly (but not exclusively) with regard to environmental and outdoor education. The testing standards to which we must teach seem to almost impede productivity of an experiential learning environment (i.e. field trips, school gardens, etc…) for our students today and I wonder if it possible to intermingle the two. I have a love for Spanish and would like to explore the hands-on learning that are accessible to CLD (culturally and linguistically diverse) students as well. I’m not sure if this is tackling too much and I should leave the CLD students out of my research, but there you have it.

  15. bans6315 says:

    My initial topic idea had been: how are twice exceptional (both gifted and learning disabled) students supported, and what are the differences in the level and type of support based on gender of the student?

    I am now also interested in: What is the data on methods and effectiveness of teachers supporting students who come from acrimonious divorce and are struggling in school emotionally?

    Though we are primarily tasked with teaching academic subjects, we sometimes also play the role of the only consistent adult in a child’s life.

  16. Kyle says:

    I am extremely interested in childhood obesity and how it relates to “screen time” which is the amount of time kids nowadays spend looking at some sort of screen. We are all guilty of this to some extent, but I think it is a major contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic. More screen time equals less physical activity time. I am just hoping there is enough research out there on this topic. Time will tell!

    • bans6315 says:

      Hi Kyle,
      This is a great question to research. I wonder if you can find any studies that show how much “screen time” kids have been engaging in over the course of the last generation, and how clearly does that rise parallel childhood obesity rates?

      I look forward to hearing more on this. ~ Phoenix

  17. ophe4482 says:

    Being a preschool teacher for the past 14 years, I am very interested in the idea that movement may improve student engagement. Therefore my topic/question for research is, How will consistent movement opportunities impact student engagement in a classroom? The one concern I have is what markers do I use to measure student engagement?

    • Jake says:

      Great topic idea! I know there is research out there, particularly at the elementary level that shows increased student engagement with increased recess, or movement, time. Have you thought about a specific grade that you want to focus on for this topic? I think narrowing your age scope may help you find research that supports the claim that increased movement can lead to increased student engagement.

      I’m excited to hear what you find!

  18. thom3640 says:

    I want to look at the efficacy of different ESL strategies/programs. What is working and what isn’t? Are bilingual classrooms more effective than push-in/pull-out? Some schools in Oregon are doing L1 full time until a certain grade level. I’m interested in seeing how effective that is compared to other strategies and perhaps looking at what has been effective in other countries concerning second language acquisition.

    • ophe4482 says:

      I am very interested in this topic. I can’t wait to know about your research. I have a son (kindergarten) enrolled in a dual language immersion school in Corvallis and I have questions about if they spend a lot of time in the language area, will math and science scores/learning diminish? Good luck on your topic.

  19. kipl9798 says:

    As a Health and P.E. nut, I am very interested in childhood obesity as one research topic option. I know childhood obesity is pretty broad and would indeed require some narrowing at some point. The other topic I have been considering looking into is the potential correlation between student’s physical activity time and their success in school.

    • ophe4482 says:

      Great topic. I am very curious about a correlation between screen time and obesity too. There has to be a correlation-but can you identify screen time as the cause or just lack of movement? Good luck!

  20. silv3268 says:

    I would like to research successful strategies/programs for English Language Learners. I know this is a broad subject so I have two ideas in mind for narrowing the scope of my topic:

    1) The incorporation of L1, a student’s native language, into classroom curriculum to assist the learning of L2, the target language. I am interested in how and to what degree L1 is incorporated into curriculum and how successful this practice is.

    2) The use of multicultural education in ELL classrooms. I would like to learn more about how students adapt to a new language and culture (or navigate more than one) and define their own cultural/linguistic identity. I am also interested in how the study of culture and the development of identity affects students’ engagement, motivation, and success in the classroom.

  21. ward4486 says:

    Currently the topic I am focused on is how nutrition and physical activity affects K-12 students success in and outside of the classroom. More specifically, do students perform better in everyday classroom activities after they come back from recess or ate a balanced breakfast? Do they preform better on standardized tests? Are they more focused in class? Once I begin to research these topics, I am curious as to if I begin to focus primarily on either nutrition or physical activity, or if both of the topics have interrelated research that has been done!

    • ophe4482 says:

      That is a great topic, especially with the loss of federal funding for nutritious lunches. I wonder if you could test the productivity of the first class after lunch- one eating a nutritious lunch and the other eating a non-healthy lunch? Was attentiveness better, test scores, and/or less disruptive behavior? I can’t wait to hear more about this.

  22. hick0029 says:

    Good Evening Everyone!
    I have a few ideas that I am interested but I think I can simplify them all down to one main interest. I would like to research the long term effects of 1 on 1 mentorship in a school structure. Specifically I would like to look into title 1 schools and see if there is any correlation between having a 1 on 1 or some sort of individualized mentorship plan and the academic success of students. With little observation so far in my own life I believe there to be long term benefits for student who have someone who is coaching them and/or providing structure for them in a school setting. Also again with limited in observation I think a lot of students in title 1 schools suffer from a lack of structure in their home lives that cause them to respond poorly at times in an academic setting. Hope that all makes sense. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

    • hick0029 says:

      Also I wanted to say that I have seen the benefits of 1 on 1 mentorship in a setting outside of school and that has moderate success from my own stand point. Students are going to make their own decisions and may not turn their lives around simply due to your intervention in their lives but nonetheless it interests me. I just wanted to slip that in. Thanks again!

  23. catl6633 says:

    Hey all, I’m down to to reseach topics Mindfullness, and Cross-Curriculum. My first teaching experience outside of music lessons was teaching English in Korea through the yoga program I was doing in NYC. The program I was doing invited me to go teach in Korea (yes, South, ROK Republic Of Korea). The classes would start with Asian calisthenics, then a quick meditation and then a quiz of sorts on the targets we were studying. Doing this set a relaxed atmosphere to start the class. I have read a few books on this subject and I know through my own experience that it works well. The second topic Cross-Curriculum is an aim of mine. I’m looking to teach Social Studies and Music and I’d like to incorporate teaching several areas of study to really get the picture, so to speak, of the main subject. So like if I was teaching history, I would like to show how politics, events, art and music all inspired the times. Likewise with music to show how art, anthropology, geography, and economics (among other disciplines) all shape what we was written and what we hear.

    • bish4477 says:

      Cross-curriculum is something that more than one educator suggested. The move to create building-wide projects… super current and meaningful.

      My son, at Hamlin Middle in Springfield, did a Solar Oven project that multiple teachers and disciplines participated in. It bridged CTE, science, math, and social studies. They built the ovens themselves and learned about the materials and technologies, learned about how water is purified through heating and what critters are in impure water… they calculated dimensions, quantities, weights and temperatures, and learned about where solar ovens are needed in the world and why.

      good stuff!

  24. page3603 says:

    The topic I am interested in at the moment is state-mandated curriculum in the United States. I want to compare the U.S. curriculum style to that of other countries to examine whether our methods are benefiting or hindering our children’s academic achievement and subject comprehension. I am also interested in the assumptions being made about the students receiving said curriculum and whether it is geared towards students from certain backgrounds, which could create educational disadvantages for certain populations.

    • hick0029 says:

      This sounds very interesting. 1.) It would be interesting to know what other countries are teaching or focusing on. 2.) It would be interesting to see how those classrooms are structured to present that information. It could also potentially lead to a discussion about the freedom in public education to adjust curriculum to fit a certain population in content and delivery. I’m very interested to hear more about it!
      – Carson

    • catl6633 says:

      Awesome! There are a lot of articles these days comparing the US education to education in other countries. Seems like the US education system has a lot to learn, and hopefully adapt some of the educational practices (and lunches lol) of other countries. I seem to see a lot about Sweden as a trend setter these days.

    • bish4477 says:

      Great topic… an additional issue about the mandated tests that is meaningful to me is the cost. I’ve heard reports that some schools are having to give up their computer labs for 3-4 months a year. Thats a lot of time that those spaces and technologies could be used for learning. Especially in under funded/lower income districts

      I had an opportunity to participate on an Education Specification committee in Springfield. We were considering the need to provide extra computer labs to accommodate testing. It was a HUGE expense… too huge. Instead we will have to continue shutting down labs every year. It’s a real bummer. (not to mention the time taken away from classroom teaching as teachers are pulled to monitor testing)

  25. fouq2882 says:

    I am down to two topics. They are:

    1. Mindfulness in the classroom: What are the benefits of using mindfulness exercises and activities on behavior and knowledge acquisition? Are there clear benefits to using these practices? Are there drawbacks? Is there a threshold level required to see benefits? Do we see more benefits depending on age, time of day, type of upcoming activity, etc.?
    2. Benefits of Project Based Learning (PBL): Does PBL lead to better learning outcomes in students as compared to other students not pursuing a PBL model? Does it matter if PBL occurs inside the classroom or outside the classroom.

    • catl6633 says:

      Great topics! I’ve seen first-hand how both of them work in a classroom setting. I’ve done a fair amount of meditation with students and seen it work in very positive ways. There seems to be a lot of new research in this area and it’s an exciting new area of education. I’m thinking about doing this topic too. I’d be happy to share my experiences with you if you like. I work at a school that does a lot of project-based learning as well and have seen some great results!

    • emer3389 says:

      Very interested to see what you come up with for mindfulness. I went to a 4 day long Tony Robbins even that utilized a lot of science based methods of improving mindfulness. It was pretty intense, and I stayed away from the ‘kool-aid’, but he was able to get 10,000 people to focus and self-improve for 14 hours a day. I could only imagine the benefits within a classroom!

  26. fouq3376 says:

    My topic: Using various forms of movement breaks to improve performance and behavior in the lower elementary Gen Ed classroom. Best types and amounts of movement to use before, after, and possibly even during different types of lessons and activities.

    • catl6633 says:

      It’s a great topic! I’ve seen it first-hand how having student do some movement in the classroom helps keep things fresh. I’ve done meridian tapping (self tapping on the body) with classes to stimulate the body, and students really like it Even just seeing how popular the fidget gadgets are these days shows how much our bodies are a part of keeping our brains focused. I myself get a brain fog if I just sit down and study without doing some kind of movement first thing in the morning or after a meal.

    • bish4477 says:

      Yes! good one. Ideally we would offer up a recess every other period but the cost seems unattainable here in Oregon at least. However, stretching and other exercises are a meaningful alternative. I think that studying workplace ergonomics (There are timed iPhone app’s for this kind of thing) and exercises would be meaningful.

  27. krop5065 says:

    Hey all,

    I’ve thought a lot about many topics and have finally decided on the one below:

    Student Stress: What are the leading causes of stress and anxiety among students? How does stress affect students’ academic performance? Do on-campus mental-health services improve student performance? Do [how do] teachers contribute to student stress? Are there methods that teachers can employ, or classroom culture that can be fostered to help moderate student stress?

    • fouq2882 says:

      This is a very interesting topic. I am down to two, one of which is mindfulness in the classroom. I wonder if we might have overlap regarding discussions of causes of stress and strategies to minimize stress.

    • hick0029 says:

      This looks very interesting. From working with a youth over the past 8 years I can’t tell you how many times I have heard high school and middle school students talk about their stress in school. It would be very interesting to know how teachers can communicate with students so as to limit stress. It would also be interesting to know the relationship between student performance and level of stress and even if that is possible to measure that.

      – Carson

    • krop5065 says:

      Ok, so after reading some blog posts from the cohort, I have an another topic of interest.

      I’m interested in how off-campus activities (e.g., outdoor education, field trips, etc.) affect student learning. Does outdoor education increase student engagement? Does engagement have a definite correlation to proficiency? More questions to come, but haven’t quite hashed them out yet…

      • fouq3376 says:

        Good topic. Also, it has been interesting to me to see that often, these outdoor education activities and field trips are a one-and-done deal, meaning that classes spend one day on something and it is left at that. How can they be incorporated into classroom activities to leave a long-term increase in engagement?

  28. bish4477 says:

    This is a tough one but after discussing it with a number of associates/friends/educators/experts/etc. I’m down to a couple.

    1. Career pathways & CTE training at the Middle School level.
    Is Middle School too soon? Should we avoid asking kids to choose a career this early? Does it prompt creativity and improve retention/attendance/graduation rates?

    2. Creating a classroom culture that is conducive to risk taking and “public speaking.”
    When I was in architecture school we were required to do small presentations on almost every project and assignment we did. Many of my classmates reported feeling more comfortable speaking in front of groups and being more efficient at organizing their thoughts toward more efficient communication. I’m wondering if this is something that works with younger students.

    3. Effects of Teacher Learning Walks?
    Last year I had an opportunity to participate in a learning walk with our district’s leadership cadre. It was a meaningful experience for everyone involved. These events take teachers out of the classroom and require some expense but it seems like the result in teacher learning/ability would more than make up the difference?

    So… which one?! Not sure yet…

    • bish4477 says:

      Oh no… there is a 4th

      4. Closing the achievement gap for adolescent boys.
      The Ford Family Foundation offers a “Free books” program including books on education and community. ***(Pass it on. It’s free!*** The book “The Purpose of Boys” really hit home with me. Recent move by many schools to focus mostly on the three Rs is hurting many… especially boys. I’m wondering what research out there on the most effective (and affordable) ways to improve attendance and performance for high-risk boys. (relates to #1)

      • Erik says:

        5. Attitude study and analysis of middle school self esteem. (I think I’m going with this one)

        Have had some great talks with educators in recent days and the presentation by Zaretta Hammond really drove some things home. Coupled with the “Why don’t students like school book” for EDUC 604-51 and sources in Hammond’s book I think I have some good launching points.

        We have four middle schools in Springfield and the sense across the district is that student’s motivation for learning has been dropping steadily for a generation. I’m wondering if any insight can be gained, by collecting and comparing data from each school, as to why.

        Is there a difference between the four schools in student performance? Is there an attitude difference that explains differences? Is there a curriculum/leadership difference? Is it possible to get an understanding of what may be happening at home when investigating community demographics? Does a schools culture have an effect?

        Still an amorphous topic and will have to narrow it down.

        What if there is no discernible cultural/curriculum/leadership difference (I imagine there has to be) but student performance IS quite different. What if all four schools show little difference as far as attitude/self-esteem issues between the different neighborhoods but performance is quite different. What am I missing?

        Not sure yet… but I hope I’m onto something?

    • fouq3376 says:

      I am also very interested in teachers observing other teachers. In my own experience, I have learned more by observing various teachers than from teaching or school. I think it’s a great way to improve throughout all stages of a teaching career. I selfishly hope you choose this one so I can learn more about it from you!

      • bish4477 says:

        I know… right? Was interested to see that this started almost 200 years ago with Horace Mann’s “Man” Cyrus Peirce.

        Bottom of page 25 of The Teacher Wars.

        • fouq3376 says:

          Yes, and it also talks about it in the Intro (page 9), mentioning that Shanghai schedules a teacher’s day by giving more time away from students to go observe other teachers at work.

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