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

41 Responses to Critical/Research Questions

  1. Erika Lincango says:

    I want to focus my research topic on cooperative games for team building and collaborative critical thinking with a focus on Math, Writing and Spanish. I would like to use games as tools for engagement. I feel students are motivated to listen when they can use the skills in a way that is relevant to them. Plus, I believe that cultivating students ludic spirit is beneficial for everybody’s mental health and well being. Therefore, I would like encourage within my classroom students collaborative work. They learn what it means to be supportive and a dependable teammate.

  2. Hailey Brown says:

    I am still working on narrowing down my topic but I do have some ideas. My main interest is in using experiential learning (or inquiry-based learning) in science classrooms. I would like to explore whether that type of teaching style helps students develop better scientific reasoning skills, retain big-picture concepts, and/or increase engagement and interest in science.

    I have noticed a lot of negativity regarding science classes for middle/high schoolers and wonder if doing more experiential activities could peak student interest in the subject, and thus be more apt to engage in the material and gain a higher level of understanding. Thinking back to when I was in middle and high school, the lessons that still stick in my head are ones where we had to build something or solve a problem or do an experiment.

  3. Patrick Hester says:

    These are some really great ideas everyone has come up with. I have a few ideas I’m kicking around. I’d like to focus somewhere in the classroom management realm. I also have been looking into curriculum development in regards to content. However, there is a lot of research on classroom management and it’s something that every teacher can relate to. I also want my skill and knowledge acquired on my subject to be marketable to a future employer. I want to look into which classroom management strategies work best at different grades. Are there strategies proven to work better with students that have learning disabilities? What are the socioeconomic influences on classroom management success? I still have a lot of narrowing down to do. I would be very interesting in sharing ideas and resources if anyone else is doing research in the same area.

  4. MacKenzie Cope says:

    Having no experience as a teacher in a classroom setting, there are soooo many things that have come to mind as good research topics these first few weeks but I think given my background that I bring from my time in social services, I want to research this idea of school involvement in a concept that has recently been identified as the “2 Gen Approach” (from Colorado). It is all about how key stakeholders provide wrap around services to a family within the community. All too often I feel like there is a lack of communication between education and community organizations and I want to research how we (the education sector) can better collaborate with other key stakeholders. I feel like this is an integrate part of helping students be successful and I don’t see it happening enough. In looking at the research so far, I have found some information on how education is formed using input from community and parents but I haven’t been able to find a whole lot of information on exactly what I am looking at so WISH ME LUCK! 🙂

    • Patrick Hester says:

      Good luck! Seems like you’re on the right path. Haven’t heard of the “2 Gen Approach”, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    • Tara Sloan says:

      Hi MacKenzie! Great topic! Definitely close to my heart having just come from working at United Way. Check out the Family Resource Centers that are operating in schools here in Lane County. They are a way to connect families with local resources and provide support. I think they are really taking root and have a lot of potentials to be even stronger. https://www.lanekids.org/family-resource-centers/

      • MacKenzie Cope says:

        I was hoping that there would be a lot on this and there is BUT its all qualitative.. Having a hard time finding what I need, I’m going to start looking into my other area of interest, math! I am interested in why some students are so quick to hate math and if there is any correlation to a students lack of interest in the subject, how it is presented by their teachers, and how their parents perceive math as a whole. Hopefully this is easier to find information on!

  5. Brooke Berman says:

    I am interested in researching practicing gratitude in a classroom. My question is: Will cultivating gratitude in a classroom improve the culture and overall well-being of students?
    It has been said that gratitude has a vast amount of benefits to schools, if adequately incorporated into the classroom. A number of studies have shown that gratitude can increase optimism, decrease negative feelings, enhance school connectedness, and improve attitudes towards school and learning. I want to research, examine, and learn effective ways to use gratitude in a classroom setting to positively influence the way students interact and behave. Since I am interesting in teaching primary elementary (K-2), this age group will be my main focus of study.

  6. Michaela Wasson says:

    I am interested in researching the downsides of using technology in the classroom. Looking at the reading I’ve done so far, there are already many, including decreased social interaction, increased cyberbullying and a lack of equal access to technology for assigned homework. Of course this also comes with all the oft-cited health issues of a screen-addicted generation. I have an enormous amount of work to do in narrowing this subject down but I think what I’ve been wondering about the most is the effect of too much screen time on a child’s reading level.

  7. Chelsea Hamar says:

    There are so many topics that I am curious about that take place in schools today. The idea of teaching students with multiple skill levels a single subject is the topic that I have decided to run with. More specifically, regarding my subject, differentiated reading strategies for high schoolers. This also leads me to the question of how do you work your classroom at that level? High schoolers will have so many different abilities when it comes to reading and comprehension, how do you challenge your lower skilled level students while also challenging higher skilled level students?

  8. Kyle Hook says:

    Topic: Best methods to maximize math appreciation in a Middle & High School setting.

    For this purpose I will be focusing on four types of math students; the kid that 1) gets it right away and enjoys it, 2) gets it but is apathetic, 3) engages but has no clue, and 4) is day-one disengaged.

    Each child will need something different to reach the goal of appreciation. The first child, to maintain appreciation, will need to see a path where they can use their strengths (math) in the real world. An apathetic child may only need the practical application information but may need historical reference to increase appreciation. Our engager, though they may appreciate the history (stories) of math or comprehend practical application and know the importance, they are disheartened because they don’t understand the concepts. Picking up new and unique tools to teach are what’s going to benefit them, as well as fully comprehending their life outside of the classroom. The disengaged, may have already given up on math, and need something fresh as their starting point. Hopefully, a combination of all of the above will bring them out of the rut and if not, then a deeper look into their life is necessary.

    The energy of the teacher, style of presentation, and effects of mindfulness will also be taken into consideration as ways to maximize appreciation for math.

    • MacKenzie Cope says:

      Hey Kyle –

      So this is VERY similar to the topic that was my #2 choice.. Since there is VERY little quantitative research on my 1st choice, I’ll be switching it up! We should compare notes 🙂

  9. Taylor Stotts says:

    Hi guys!
    I took a common core mathematics class during my undergrad at the U of O, and while the class was extremely difficult, it definitely offered a new perspective on math and introduced new methods that I know find myself wanting to explore further. One reading we had, compared and contrasted the US methods of teaching mathematics to our elementary students versus the Chinese methods. This book- which I can’t seem to remember the name of at the moment, really elaborated on U.S. teachers never have gotten adequate education in mathematical practices thus, how can they then pass along this information to their students. I’d really like to further research why the Chinese methods of teaching are more successful then the U.S. I’m sure this idea I have will narrow along the way, but overall this is what I’d like to research.

    • Kyle Hook says:

      Hi Taylor,
      To find alternatives on how to help a child reengage with math, it would be great to learn more about the Chinese methods. I’ll poke around on my own and let you know about anything I find that could help! Fun topic for sure! Tools for the toolbox!

  10. Phoenix Bansmer says:

    My initial topic of interest is gifted students. As I’m gathering articles I’m realizing that the whole field of gifted education is of interest to me. I feel that little attention is paid to gifted-identified students in our schools, and I want to know about new and innovative teaching methods based on brain research that could better serve this learning population.

    How schools can best serve “twice exceptional” (2E) students, who are both gifted and have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. Serving both high aptitude and learning issues is a conundrum that must be solved so these students don’t fall through the cracks.

    What are the impacts of keeping these students in regular classrooms vs. pulling them out of class for special instruction or putting them into classes for gifted students?

    And how can we ensure equity in identifying gifted students? I am coming across articles about gender discrimination in identifying gifted girls, as well as students of color and from low-income households.

    I am trying to keep my topic narrow, but it’s difficult when so many options are interesting!

    • Michelle Nelson says:

      Great topic, Phoenix! I was one of several parents in my district who pushed to implement ways to better serve TAG students. We ended up organizing TAG nights (offering various activities and games) and other events, but what we really wanted was for the schools to offer better services within the classrooms. It’s still a work in progress. Best of luck with your research — and narrowing down your options. 🙂

  11. Roxie Hetzer says:

    My research project will explore effectiveness of the Inquiry Based Learning teaching model. This model is thought to be very effective because it triggers curiosity of the student; students come up with their own questions about topics of interest, they learn through their own inquiry of researching answers, developing their own system along the way that works for them, they present their findings, and then reflect on their questions and answers. Inquiry based learning transfers responsibility of learning to the student, teachers become more of facilitators, and students tend to be more engaged and confident in their ability. I would like to explore research completed on the effectiveness of this model at the elementary age group, focusing on primary grades K-3.

  12. Nora Daly says:

    I am really interested in the emotional health of students, particularly Elementary age students. Particularly when children are young, their emotions tend to control them rather than the other way around. I want to know how I can help kids recognize and verbalize their feelings, being able to advocate for themselves and what they need. When students don’t know how to advocate for themselves, it can lead to large, disruptive behaviors to themselves and the classroom. Learning how to be emotionally healthy can not only impact the classroom positively, but also positively impact their quality of life. I wonder, what does it look like for young students to be emotionally healthy, and how can I be of help and support to them?

  13. Maddy Simons says:

    A research topic that I am interested in studying is positive mental health promotion in schools and how effective it is. Our schools have been severely affected by students with poor mental health in many ways, and this is something I want to look into understanding, as well as fixing. As a future health teacher, I want to know what is actually beneficial to my students mental health knowledge, and what lessons would just be beating the mental health lesson “dead horse” they have been listening to since elementary school. How can we make mental health something that doesn’t feel silly or embarrassing to talk about, and what will help students come together and understand it is okay to not be okay? I am hoping to get in contact with Anil to narrow in on my topic, as Todd had suggested.

    • Brooke Berman says:

      Hey Maddy! I love your topic. I feel like mental health is something that people do not talk about much because they feel ashamed or scared. However, 1 in 5 people in America suffer from some mental illness. I agree that it is important to start educating students that it’s ok not to be ok and help is out there. Not only would it be great to end the stigma, but it could also potentially save lives. I look forward to hearing what you learn!

  14. Jill Holden says:

    I’m very interested in the use of mindfulness practices in the classroom, particularly in elementary school classrooms, and the benefits mindfulness can have for mental health. In the fast-paced, multi-media, multi-tasking world of today it can be easy to become lost in an unending stream of information and stimuli. The burnout, anxiety, depression, and fatigue that this can cause has led to a rise in the practice of mindfulness. Educators and students alike have been shown to benefit greatly in schools that have implemented a mindfulness practice into the curriculum; it has been shown to help reduce the stress and burnout that many teachers and students feel. I’m very interested in researching this topic in-depth, and finding more information about the benefits for students and teachers who participate in mindfulness practices in their classrooms.

    • John Donaldson says:

      Another thing that would be intresting to know would be at what age group is mindfulness the most effective to introduced to? Is it more effective for older students than younger? Do younger students grow into more effective practioners than older students newly introduced to mindfulness? I would assume this is true but I have no facts to prove this…

      • Jill Holden says:

        Thank you for this! I hadn’t really considered if maybe a certain age group may be more adept at adopting a mindfulness practice than another, or if there is a particular age that has been found to be the most responsive to the benefits of a mindfulness. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I’m doing research!

    • Roxie Hetzer says:

      Hi Jill, in my last Head Start classes I taught last year, my pre-k students tended to be loud, excited, sometimes chaotic, and I wanted to implement mindfulness to help calm and focus their attention, along with social emotional awareness to help with social skills. It was tough, and I had to teach it slowly step by step (small steps). Everyday after recess I had them lay down on carpet and listen to ocean waves while breathing (5 minutes) in/out, to relax and focus them before going onto next classroom activity, and it helped. Also, I taught them the Elmo Belly Breathing Song to give them a self management skill when they became upset. I found it hard to teach mindfulness and social emotional skills when students were excited which was most of the time at school, distracted by each other, so strong classroom management has to be in place first for your students to listen and/or sit quietly. Like you, I believe mindfulness and social emotional awareness can help students succeed in social relationships and academically.

      • Patrick Hester says:

        I’ve seen some teachers using mindfulness techniques at the elementary level and I’m really impressed. The students respond very well to it and buy in quickly in my experience. I’ve found myself doing some exercises at home (especially when doing homework lol).

  15. Tara Sloan says:

    Topic: Overcoming negative academic self-esteem related to reading-acquisition difficulties in K, 1, 2

    Research shows that early reading has a significant impact on future academic success. When children experience challenges early on they can feel embarrassed or stupid. It may be that they have an undiagnosed learning disability or simply have not had access to print or parents that read to them. But regardless, they are behind. How does negative self-esteem affect their ability to overcome that challenge? What tools can we use to build self-esteem and bring them up to speed efficiently and effectively?

    My brother struggled with reading and was held back to do the second grade for a second time because of it. This has nothing to do with his intelligence (he is now an airline captain flying 747s). He overcame it with an incredible amount of work and dedication from my parents and grandparents, but this experience was traumatic for him. Not all kids have the support and advocacy he did to overcome. I wonder what happens to these kids and what potential is lost because of it, and I would love to know how I can help my students in the future.

  16. Adrienne Colaizzi says:

    The research topic of my interest is “Classroom Management”, specifically how to ‘Stop Bullying’. Having a classroom free of bullying is not enough; it is just as valuable to be able to further teach how to be respectful to others and ourselves outside of the classroom (the hallways, cafeteria, playground) to in our communities/within our families. By teaching and learning about ourselves and those around us, making people feel included and honoring our differences are essential to having a respectful classroom. The next step is the development of the art of transferring those abilities outside of the classroom, and how to teach others to do the same, ie: Teaching it Forward.

    • Jill Holden says:

      Howdy! I’m really interested in your topic, and how to teach children to have respect, empathy, and compassion for others, not just in the classroom, but outside of it as well. I would love to know what research you find about teaching children the concept of “Teaching it Forward”, and what techniques can be used in the classroom to encourage it. I’m looking forward to learning more about your topic!

      • Adrienne Colaizzi says:

        Hi Jill,
        As I research my topic, I am happy to share with you/collaborate and exchange ideas – as well as procedures for research methods and evolving areas in this field!

  17. Emma Castle says:

    I’m interested in researching the phenomenon of “Teacher Burnout”. One of my biggest fears going into this profession (besides how to actually manage 20+ teenagers) is that I won’t be able to do it for long. Right now, I want to find out more about it, like what are the rates of teachers leaving and why are they leaving. I’m also interested in finding out what the consequences are of teacher turnover on the students and schools and the profession as a whole. I know I’d like to do interviews of current and former teachers on their experiences with burnout. I think strategies to combat burnout will also be part of my research, both individual strategies teachers use/can use and on a bigger scale how we can prepare new teachers for the field.

    • Michelle Nelson says:

      Emma … I love this topic! It’s something I have thought about; in fact, I know teachers who have left the profession because of burnout. It worries me. Like you said, I think there are strategies that can help. In our Wednesday class, Jenelle made a great point about self-care and having the work-life balance — being able to put work out of your mind once you get home. I would be interested in knowing what schools are doing — if anything — to help alleviate burnout.

    • Michaela Wasson says:

      I wonder if it has anything to do with lack of respect for the teaching profession. I was reading an article describing different reasons for teacher dropouts and one of the things was that nobody listens to them, parents and administrators, and that they are blamed for everything that goes wrong. That’s a lot of responsibility!

      • Kyle Hook says:

        I definitely think being undervalued can weigh on someone and when they have to work 3 jobs to get by (http://time.com/5395001/teacher-in-america/) it certainly is not going to incentivize any further. I’d imagine redirection of our own minds towards the positives of what we are doing will play a factor into creating a 30 year career. Looking forward to hearing what you come up with. Let me know if you want to interview someone who just finished a 30 year career (retired last year, in special ed) I think she would be willing to take the time and help provide the longevity side of the research.

  18. Leah Cruzen says:

    I will be researching ELD strategies that can be used by all teachers, including comprehension checks. I find sometimes that students say that they are following what is going on in class, because they don’t want to admit that they understand. It would be helpful for teachers to be aware of ways that they can check for comprehension when they aren’t sure a student is understanding. I would like to find out what research has been done in order to facilitate ELD success in classes with teachers that may not have a second language. I would like to learn about differentiation techniques, and how we can teach students the most important concepts, while not overloading them with work. It can be easier to differentiate for subjects like Language Arts and Social Studies than Science or Math.

    • Cat Donnelly says:

      Much along a similar line of thinking as Leah’s, I am interested in researching learning techniques designed to help determine ELD students’ academic progress and comprehension of their courses, how an educator can best target an individual’s learning needs, and how these can come together to create a supportive environment in which the student does not fall behind on their learning, while also monitoring and encouraging their English Language Acquisition to make sure that we, as educators, are setting them up for academic and life success. I’ve been observing my ELD students as I work with them, and it is definitely a challenge to condense the information to give them enough to get through their classes, without missing anything or overloading them. Language barriers are very frustrating, and without educational instruction and support, these barriers create frustrations that hinder the students’ progress.

  19. John Donaldson says:

    The topic I desire to further research is the concept of making history relevant to teenagers in middle/high school. I want to find ways to engage their spirits as well as their minds in studying history. Motivation is key in everything we learn; if we have interests in subjects, we tend to learn more about them. There are two directions to go with this research. One way is to research the physiological reasons that teenagers are the way they are. Brain development and emotional intelligence could be the focus here. The second area is how we can use historic examples to warn, motivate, teach, and inspire students to develop better character and civic responsibility. At this time I’m unsure which direction to proceed with, or if I should combine them into one paper.

  20. Michelle Nelson says:

    My research topic will explore using technology as a tool to help students improve their writing. In other words, “How can technology help students become better writers?” Sure, there are pitfalls with technology, but it’s a big part of students’ lives — inside and outside the classroom. I want to look at effective ways to harness it to help students improve their communication skills across all aspects of their lives, now and as adults.

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