Concluding Research Project for M.Ed. in Special Education
The research project is one option that may be pursued for meeting the requirements of the degree. In lieu of a project, the student may instead choose to complete a Thesis, conducted according to guidelines from the Graduate School. International students will typically choose to complete a thesis.
The project is defined below, followed by guidelines for proposal development, and the step-by-step procedures for completing the project.
I. Definition: A project is a thoughtful, carefully justified, structured analysis and intervention to a problem or cluster of concerns that arise in, or are directly related to, your teaching experience. For example, the Project may involve an analysis and intervention concerning aspects of curriculum design, implementation, and evaluation, behavioral planning, or it may focus on a study of larger policy issues within the school or region.
II. Proposal Development: All projects are to be planned in advance and in consultation with the advisor. Proposals developed during EDUC 981 and any preliminary data collected can only be used for the project if it is developed and collected in cooperation with the project committee as described in section III below. The process of completing a Project usually takes a minimum of one full academic year. The student is responsible for beginning and maintaining contact with the Project Advisor in a timely manner so that the Project can be completed in the time-line envisioned by the student.
A. Prerequisites. Before beginning the project, the student must have completed all prerequisite courses and have either completed or be currently enrolled in at least the first semester of the internship. The student must have either previously completed or be currently enrolled in EDUC 981 prior to the development of the project proposal.
B. Faculty advisor and project committee. The student will consult with a member of the special education faculty qualified to sponsor the Project and secure preliminary consent of that faculty member to serve as the Project Advisor. The student will then, in agreement with the Project Advisor, secure the preliminary consent of one additional faculty member, to serve on the student’s Project Committee. This information will then be entered in the student’s graduate file within the department.
C. Initial Project proposal approval. The student is required to prepare a short (2 –3 page) proposal for approval by the Project Committee before work on the Project is begun. This proposal should include a brief description of the need, purpose, and solutions, including methods proposed to gather data supporting a solution. In limited circumstances, preexisting data may be admissible with project committee approval.
D. Proposal development. The student will work with the Project Advisor, and the other committee member as needed, to develop the design of the project, to develop formal and informal evaluation procedures and to determine the relevant literature that will be reviewed to justify the project. The student in conjunction with the committee will refine the written design for IRB submission. (Information and forms for this are available at the following UNH website http://www.unh.edu/osr/compliance/compliance_info_sheet.html.) Continuing contact with the committee is expected on a regular basis to review ongoing progress with the Project. This is especially important during the writing of the Project’s final report to avoid major revisions at that time.
E. Project report. All completed project reports must contain the following sections:
Introduction: The introduction should establish the importance and review of the relevant literature of the concerns or questions the project will address. It should contain a review of the relevant related literature. A good introduction is usually written in such a way as to build a convincing case for the need for a particular project.
Method: The project report should describe the participants, project activities, materials, and procedures, in enough detail so that the project could be replicated by others, if need be. Details of the evaluation procedure must also be explained.
Results, Discussion, and Implications: The project report must describe the outcome of the project and its evaluation. The results must be discussed, including descriptions of appropriate analyses made using the data. Relevant implications for further research and practice must be drawn from these data, and described in the report.
A project report must be submitted as a well-developed piece of writing using current APA format. Most students will write several drafts of the report with input and revisions from the Project Committee. Suggestions may be offered for revision of content, clarity, organization, and writing mechanics at each draft until the report is acceptable. Project reports are not acceptable until they are of ‘A’ quality.
F. Final Project Approval. A final meeting of the Project Committee and the student will be held at which time questions will be resolved, final revisions will be suggested, and recommendations will be made. Upon completion of recommended editing, final approval will be granted. Approval of the Project will be granted in writing by a unanimous favorable decision of the Project Committee. Final approval must be granted by the date for master’s thesis approval set by the graduate school. The student is responsible for consulting the Graduate School Calendar on the UNH website to identify the exact date as these dates vary each semester.