How to Write a One-Page Research Proposal for Special Education

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Writing a research proposal can be a daunting task. You’re supposed to succinctly summarize all the core elements of your paper -- before you’ve even written it. If you’re writing a one-page research proposal about special education, it can be even more daunting, because special education has so many overlapping complexities (for example, pedagogical challenges combined with disability challenges). But if you can whittle your ideas down to a tight proposal, your research paper will be easier to write.

1 Pick a Specific Area to Study

Special education is a field of growing research. Many topics need to be explored further. Choose one before you sit down to write your proposal -- luckily, you shouldn’t have any shortage of research subjects. But if you’re feeling stuck, talk to a professor for suggestions. Before you do, here’s a list of topics that might inspire you: assessment, adaptive physical education, ADD, audiology, autism, coordinated early intervention, dropout statistics, emotional behavioral disabilities, homeless students with disabilities, hearing impairment, learning disabilities, occupational therapy, parent involvement and transitions.

2 Topic, Research Question, and its Significance

In the first part of your short proposal, identify the topic you selected. Then ask a research question related to it. For instance, if the topic you picked is “ADD,” your research question may be, “How quickly has the diagnosis rate for ADD risen in the last 10 years?” You should then explain why it is important to explore this question -- this is where you justify the purpose of your research.

3 Previous Literature on the Topic

If this weren’t a one-page proposal, you’d call this section a literature review. Here, as succinctly as possible, identify different schools of thought on the subject. You’ll probably want to devote a sentence to each major thinker -- emphasis on major, since you don’t have much space, remember -- and her or his research findings. You should be able to give a brief historical survey of research conducted on the special education topic that you’ll be studying yourself.

4 Your Expectations

Here you get to use your imagination -- to an extent. Having demonstrated a solid grounding in the special education research topic, you’re in a good position to make an educated guess about what you’ll discover through your own research. Identify your expected research findings and elaborate on them by discussing how those findings could be interpreted and how they could fit into current research about special education.

Living in Canada, Andrew Aarons has been writing professionally since 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ottawa, where he served as a writer and editor for the university newspaper. Aarons is also a certified computer-support technician.