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Junior Research Plans

To: Junior majors in the Educational Studies Program

All juniors must attend a meeting with Ed Studies faculty on Tuesday March 22, 2016 at 12:15 p.m. in the McCook Library (Pizza will be provided) to learn about requirements for the one-semester independent research project, which is typically completed in the Educ 400: Senior Research Seminar on Monday afternoons (1:15-3:55 pm) in the fall semester.

To receive permission to enroll in the seminar,  juniors must submit a 1-2 page research plan for approval by the Educational Studies faculty, due before advising week. (This year the deadline is Thursday, March 31, 2016, since Advising Week begins April 4th and pre-registration begins April 11th.)

Write a research plan (download form) that responds to the questions below, then submit your document to Ed Studies faculty (upload link​) by the deadline.

Include your name, major(s)/concentration, and current date

  1. What is your proposed research question, and how is it significant to educational studies, broadly defined?
    Be sure to phrase your idea as a researchable question or a testable hypothesis. Educational studies is broadly defined as schooling and its relationship to society, and/or learning processes, and/or youth development.
  2. What courses, experiences, and/or readings inspired you to choose this question?
    You may draw upon prior courses, community-learning experiences, internships, and be sure to include at least two secondary sources (articles or books), explain how they are relevant to your thinking, and reference them using any academic citation system. Refer to
    prior course syllabi, the Ed 400 Trinity Library Guide, or make an appointment with a Trinity librarian for assistance.
  3. What prior methods training do you have, and what primary sources and methods will you use to answer this question?
    Methods training includes your research methods course, or a study you did as part of a research project seminar. In Ed Studies, your senior research project must extend beyond secondary sources, and base your findings on primary sources and methods, including:
    • qualitative research, such as interviewing or ethnography (where the interview transcripts and/or detailed field notes serve as primary sources)
    • quantitative research, such as analyzing a dataset (the primary source), which you could construct on your own (via surveys, etc.) or obtain from another source (such as an educational or governmental agency)
    • historical research, such as analyzing change & continuity over time through archival documents, periodicals, visual images, oral histories, etc.
    • or any combination of the three

Be specific about how your sources and methods will allow you to answer your research question.
  4. Does your plan include research with human subjects?
    At this stage, simply state whether or not your study will involve observations, interviews, or surveys of human subjects (meaning people: parents, teachers, and especially minors). After your plan is approved by Ed Studies faculty, you will need to submit an Institutional Review Board (IRB) ethics review.
  5. Does your research plan require access to a school or organization?
    If yes, then provide the name and affiliation of the community partner you have contacted to discuss your research project. You must provide a copy of an email/letter from this person to receive an enrollment PIN. 
  6. Scheduling: Due to the size of the Class of 2017, the Ed Studies faculty will assign students into two different sections: Fall 2016 or Spring 2017. Both will be taught by Professor Dougherty, and will meet on Mondays from 1:15-3:55pm. Please tell us if there are any compelling reasons why you wish to be assigned to one section versus the other, such as a scheduling conflict with another course required for graduation, etc.


  • Some seniors may wish to supplement their Ed 400 project with a half-credit pass/fail internship, which entails working 8 hours per week with an organization, to build a closer relationship for conducting your research. To propose this, add a section to your plan that describes the internship and how it fits with your research project. If your Ed 400 instructor agrees to be your faculty sponsor, then download an Academic Internship Contract​, ask your community partner to be your field supervisor, and propose additional written work beyond the research project (such as a series of reflective essays).

  • Some seniors may wish to coordinate their independent research with another Ed 400 student’s project. For example, two students could work on separate research studies, but pool together interview questions to collect data from the same population. Furthermore, some seniors may wish to coordinate their Ed 400 research project with a thesis in their other major, by conducting two distinct studies on a related topic. To propose a coordinated study, add a section that explains the relationship between your Ed 400 project and work by other students or for other classes.

Resources for learning more:

Ed Studies faculty: Jack Dougherty, Andrea Dyrness, Robert Cotto

Trinity College Digital Repository, Educational Studies Senior Projects

Rachael Barlow, Social Science Research and Data Coordinator

Rob Walsh, Library liaison for Educational Studies Program

For additional support for your research project, consider applying for a Community Learning Research Fellowship, a Levy Research Grant for Urban Studies, and/or a Grossman Research Grant for Global Studies.​