Research Proposal Details

Here are some more details about the final proposal assignment. If you have questions, post a comment.

Audience and purpose
Obviously, I’m one audience member. I’m looking to see that the proposal demonstrates you have a good sense of the idea of the scholarship of teaching and learning and general and how it translates into practice in your own area of specialization. I want to see proposals that are thoughtful about each of the areas specified below, e.g. theoretical grounding and dissemination. However, I think it’s worth considering other possible audiences for your proposal. I hope that you’ll consider writing about a project you might actually like to complete in some form, at some point. If you do, you’ll likely need to persuade someone (or some set of people) it’s worth doing and the way you propose to do it is promising. It may be there you’ll need to convince someone to give you funding to make your scholarship possible or to provide you with access to a population your wish to research. It may also be you’ll need to convince someone it should count for some academic or professional requirement. Depending on who you imagine as these additional audiences–bosses, principles, disciplinary association officers, dissertation advisors, etc.–your approach is likely going to need to be a bit different.

Here are a set of general categories  to include in your proposal. Some, like objectives and budget, would be more important in a funding proposal than, say, a dissertation proposal. Others, like theoretical background, vice versa. There is no set length. It should be as long as it needs to be to do what you need to do in each section. That being said, I’d guess it would take something in the range of 15 pp. on average to accomplish that.

Problem statement: What’s the problem you wish to investigate? What evidence do you have that it is genuinely a problem? Why is it important, and to whom? Make sure to show how student learning will be improved by solving this problem and explain why it calls for the scholarship of teaching and learning, as opposed to some more traditional orientation to educational research.

Objectives: What are some specific, measurable outcomes of your project that will show whether or not it was successful? How you you evaluate the success of the project?

Theoretical grounding:
What broader philosophical or scientific understanding of learning underlies your question and your approach to inquiring into it? How does the theory help clarify and deepen your understanding of the problem? What gaps in the theory can investigating the question help to bridge? How can you project help further develop the theory?

Literature review: What other scholarship of teaching and learning has been done that relates to the problem, both within your area of specialization and more broadly? What other educational research sheds light on the issues at hand? What are the limitations of this body of knowledge you hope to address through your project? What does your project add to the literature in the field?

Methodology: What methodology and methods will you use to investigate the problem? What kinds of data will you collect, and how will they be analyzed? Why is this approach appropriate to the nature of the problem? How will you ensure your subjects informed consent? In what ways might learners be involved as co-researchers as well as informants?

How will the results of the project be made public? Who are the audiences for them, through what venues will you addresses these audiences, and what forms will that communication take? (e.g. Will you publish articles in disciplinary journals? Hold workshops as SoTL conferences? Build a course portfolio?)

Timeline: Over what period of time will the project be completed? What are specific milestones along the way? If multiple people will be involved in the research, who does what, when?

Budget: What resources will be necessary to complete the project?