Pedagogical Inquiry Project

One of the objectives for this course is that you demonstrate an ability to locate, analyze, and synthesize writings in our professional field. It is critical in our profession that we be actively seeking new and innovative ways to foster student learning, and this assignment will help you to do that.

The Task

For this project, you will choose a topic related to a specific area of teaching English (broader topics like discipline or classroom management are not acceptable). Formulating the topic as a question will help engage you in meaningful inquiry. (So, for instance, you might want to ask the question, “How can we make Shakespeare more engaging for students?” or “How can I use young adult literature with AP/Honors students?”) With a focus in mind, you will select four significant articles (or book chapters) that deal with your focus. Choose your articles wisely based on their relevance to your topic; make or save copies of the articles for your files. Read and process each article carefully.

You will report the results of your research in the form of an annotated bibliography. Each annotation should begin by citing each article correctly (either in APA or MLA format). In the annotation itself, you are to both summarize and evaluate each article, looking for strong points and weak points from the article’s discussion. Your annotation should provide evidence that you have read the article critically and have meaningfully processed the content.

Before the annotations, write a brief introduction in which you introduce your topic, the context for your inquiry, and rationalize your choice of topic. After the annotated entries, you will write a concluding piece. In this piece, I want you to synthesize the findings from the four articles by discussing patterns that emerged in your inquiry and the analysis of the articles and describe how you feel this information will be useful to you as a professional teacher (including in the unit plan you’re writing for this course).

Considerations

In choosing your articles, keep in mind that recent research is more appropriate for this pursuit. If you decide to choose articles that are older, be sure to clearly justify your choice in the annotation. Your annotations should be succinct but also encompass the major points of the article. Feel free to argue with the authors, question their assumptions, and/or incorporate your own experiences as part of the reaction. (See the model below for examples of this.) If you find yourself criticizing the article for its lack of relevance or helpfulness to your question, realize that this is more a criticism of your choice (and that you might want to rethink the choice of that particular article). Your concluding piece should reflect your efforts to connect all this together and to discuss its influence on your practice as a professional teacher.

Length & Format

Your project should be single-spaced, with 12-point font and 1” margins on all sides. Each annotation should be about a half-page (including the citation) and the concluding piece should be around a single page (again, single-spaced).

Grading

I have prepared a grading sheet for this assignment, which you can access here. The goal of this activity is to display your different “minds” as explained by Howard Gardner (look at the “Why Do Questions Matter in Curriculum?” chapter from Burke’s book–page 11–in your readings packet). As you connect the articles, you should demonstrate evidence of a synthesizing mind as well a creating mind in the question you pose and the conclusions you reach.

Resources

You can access a list of potential topics here.

I’ve provided an annotated model of parts of the assignment here.