Instructions March 30-April 2 (Module 2): Proposal Sharing and Revision

**This module has two due dates. Some tasks are due Monday, March 30, and some are due Thursday, April 2, by the end of each respective day. The deadlines for this module have been revised due to CUNY’s “Recalibration Period.” **

**If you are not going to be able to complete all of the tasks, the most important aspect is to turn in a Proposal on Blackboard. This is a required element of your final portfolio.**

For each writing task, I recommend you do the writing in something that saves automatically, like Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or the Notes app on your phone. Or even a piece of paper. Then, copy/paste it onto the course site. This will prevent you from accidentally losing your work.

Topic and Learning Objectives

This week, we’ll be working on our proposals for the final research project.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Students will compose inquiry questions to shape their final projects that are focused, answerable, and use specific, operational language.
  2. Students will create a research proposal based on their inquiry questions, which they will share with their peers
  3. Students will analyze and evaluate their peers’ proposals and offer constructive feedback
  4. Students will synthesize feedback from their peers into revised versions of their proposals

Overview of Tasks

  1. Orient yourself with a Writing Into the Week prompt (share only if you wish)
  2. Browse sample proposals and learn about elements of good inquiry questions
  3. Write your own proposal and post some or all of it on the Course Site by the end of Monday, March 30
  4. Give feedback to at least 2 peers using the elements of good inquiry questions, the Proposal Rubric, and your own perspective as a reader
  5. Revise your proposal and turn it in on Blackboard by the end of Thursday, April 2.

Step 1: Writing Into the Week

Please write for approximately 10-15 minutes on the following questions:

  1. If you already like one or more of the inquiry questions you wrote last week and want to use it for your proposal, what do you already know about this topic? What are the gaps in your knowledge?
  2. If you don’t want to use one of the inquiry questions from last week, what other topics relating to one of the themes of our course readings (algorithmic modeling, college admissions and rankings, online advertising, criminal justice, job applicant systems, shift schedules, credit scores and online e-scores, the insurance industry, Facebook and politics) would you like to investigate further? What aspects of that topic most interest you?
  3. What are the stakes of your question/topic? That is, why is it important? How would the answer affect people? What could or should change based on the answer? What could the information be used for?

You can share your answers as a comment if you want to, but you do not have to share this week.

Step 2: Study Examples

Please skim through the following examples. You don’t need to read each one closely, but do look at each one to get a sense for what a proposal looks like.

Here are some sample proposals from last semester’s students. Each student’s inquiry questions could have been even more specific and operational, but each proposal got a good grade and resulted in a good paper.
Sample 1
Sample 2
Sample 3

Here are some other examples of research proposals, but for another school/class with different requirements.

Writing Good Inquiry Questions

Click here for a very good guide + accompanying video for writing good research questions! Pay special attention to the subsection called “What makes a strong research question?” It lists several criteria with explanations and examples. I recommend reading the whole thing, but will expand on what I think is the most important part below.

In the learning objectives, I used the phrase “specific, operational language.” What does that mean? Operational language has a clearly defined, measurable meaning within its context.

For example, “Good” is not operational language. What counts as good? Who decides that? Do we mean high quality, or morally good? How do we know if something is good?

If our inquiry question is, “Is coffee good for you?”, we could revise “good for you” to be more operational in a bunch of different ways:

  1. How often can a person in average health drink coffee without experiencing any negative health outcomes? (“Good for you” becomes “not causing harms.” Problem: “negative health outcomes” is still not very specific. What outcomes will we be paying attention to?) 
  2. What are the nutritional benefits of drinking coffee? (“Good for you” becomes “has nutritional benefits.” Problem: Coffee can be prepared in many different ways. Are we studying only black coffee? Espresso? Lattes?)
  3. Does drinking coffee offset any of the cognitive effects of sleep deprivation? (Decreased focus, memory, alertness, etc.) (“Good for you” becomes “offsetting the effects of sleep deprivation,” a common reason people drink coffee. Problem: this is not a very focused question. I should probably choose only one effect of sleep deprivation to study, in order to make the research project more manageable.)

Step 3: Write Your Proposal and Share

Instructions for the proposal are here.

Post the final version of your inquiry question(s) as a comment on this post 
Post your entire proposal draft as its own post.

It’s up to you which one you do– do you want feedback on your entire proposal, or just on your inquiry questions?

**This part is due by the end of the day on Monday, March 30**

Step 4: Give Feedback

Give feedback to at least 2 of your classmates. Use these guiding questions (answer as many or as few as you want):

  1. How can they make their inquiry question(s) more specific, answerable, and operational?
  2. For those who chose to share their entire proposal, how well do they meet the criteria listed on the assignment sheet/rubric? In what ways can they revise to meet the guidelines?
  3. What reactions/comments do you have as a reader? What intrigues you? What confuses you? What suggestions do you have, or what directions would you explore if this was your paper?
  4. Do you have any questions for the writer that 1) aren’t already answered in the proposal/inquiry question and 2) should be answered right now? (That is, what would be helpful to know before they do the research? Imagine you’re on a committee deciding whether or not to fund the project. What do you still need to know about the project in order to decide?

Step 5: Revise Your Proposal and Turn It In!

Revise your proposal/questions based on the feedback you receive from your classmates and turn it in on Blackboard by the end of Thursday, April 2.

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