Whether you're conducting research for your thesis or shorter research paper in a required course, get to the heart of the matter by understanding high priority educational research issues. Much research has been conducted on issues like test anxiety, bullying and special education, but new perspectives are always needed. Alternatively, consider replicating existing research, a need that's been identified by educational research organizations.
Student Test Anxiety
Analyze the reasons why students get anxious before important assessments. According to the Center for Academic Success at the University of Alabama, anxiety is caused when a threatening situation is detected -- usually when a student thinks he will do poorly on an exam. Research topics could examine when students feel test anxiety most often. For instance, do students who are strong in math have this feeling before a math test, or before an exam in a different discipline, like English? Alternatively, consider testing methods to help students cope with this stress. A University of St. Thomas graduate student, for instance, examined the way that creative writing done prior to an important test can reduce student anxiety.
Bullying Across Age Groups
The American Educational Research Association, an organization focused on the application of scholarly research results, conducted a study on bullying at the elementary, middle and high school levels as well as college. The study advocates for further research and the training of teachers and administrators in the prevention of bullying. Master’s students interested in pursuing further analysis in this area could focus on a specific age group, a certain method of bullying -- such as cyber bullying -- or educator training.
Most graduate students studying education are required to take coursework in special education, whether pursuing a specialization in this area or not. According to Lynchburg College, research topics in this area can focus on a wide range of areas, including instructional practices, reading disabilities and student inclusion. It’s also possible to focus on how specific conditions, such as autism, epilepsy or emotional disorders, affect students in a variety of situations. Consider examining an alternate angle by studying the structure of specific special education within individual school districts or state departments of education.
Re-Examining Existing Research
Repetition is key in scholarly research. When an experiment is conducted and published in academic journals, it is free to be replicated by others to validate the findings. According to researchers at Duke University and the University of Connecticut, only 0.13 percent of articles published in education journals are replications of prior research. A study published in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal, identifies a shortage in this area. For graduate students, opportunities abound in trying to reproduce published data, which is found to be successful 54 percent of the time. Even if conclusions contradict or diverge from the original research, it would still be valuable information to the field and would help to increase the current number of replicated studies.
- The University of Alabama Center for Academic Success: What Causes Test Anxiety?
- University of St. Thomas: M.Ed. Awards 14 Action Research Projects
- American Educational Research Association: Study Details Shortage of Replication in Education Research
- American Educational Research Association: Prevention of Bullying in Schools, Colleges, and Universities
- Lynchburg College: M.Ed in Special Education Research Projects
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