Students complete a 7-10-page “synthesis paper” that will be constructed over the first half of the semester. The paper contains both a brief literature review and a fieldwork/research component (i.e., a “real-world connection). Students should select a topic within the professional development, adult development, school change, or literacy education fields that directly connects with coaching (i.e., school-based professional development) and discuss the implications of the research in light of a real-world connection. Thus, students must support their main argument by “synthesizing” information from the literature and the real world.
Examples of “real-world connections” include: a) an analysis of a state or district’s coaching policies and procedures; b) an interview with a teacher, coach, or administrator regarding coaching; c) an observation of a teacher-coach pair; d) a document analysis of coaching preparation materials (e.g., books, articles, PowerPoint slides used by a district, etc.); e) a critical analysis of a new book on literacy coaching; f) other connections to be agreed-upon by the student and professor. The literature review portion of the paper will be guided by in-class readings; however, students are expected to include 4-5 sources beyond our syllabus. Also, a real-world connection may be arranged in coordination with the professor as needed. All information collected as part of this course may not be used for outside research purposes.
As a first step toward writing the final paper, students must submit a paper proposal (September 24th); although, proposals may certainly be submitted earlier. The proposal must include an overarching question/statement of argument, a general outline of what literature will be reviewed (i.e., references), and an outline of the intended fieldwork/research.
An outline for this proposal is provided below.
- The paper must have 1” margins, be single-sided, stapled in the upper left-hand corner, and typed in 12-pt. font (preferably Times or Times New Roman).
- The paper must be at least 7 double-spaced pages long (not including references). If your paper has more than 10 pages of text (again, not including references or appendix material), please consult the instructor before submitting.
- Please include a title-page with your paper’s title, your name, the date, and the name of this course. This page does not count toward your 10 pages.
- The paper must adhere to APA guidelines (e.g., proper citations and references, proper punctuation and spacing, correct spelling, etc.).
- Students may not submit this paper for another course (or vice-versa) without the explicit consent of the instructors of both courses.
- Papers will be graded according to the rubric posted on the “Assignments” page of our course website.
Synthesis Paper Proposal
I. Overarching Question / Statement of Argument
In this section, please describe your overall question and statement of argument. Every good analytical paper must have a question/statement of argument that is being addressed. An example might be:
Question driving the paper: To what extent does a principal’s support of a literacy coach’s work improve the coach’s relationship with teachers and other staff?
Argument: With the strong support of a principal, a literacy coach has a better chance of clearly defining her role in a school, communicating goals with teachers, and avoiding confusion between coaching and supervision.
NOTE: The questions addressed in these papers are not true research questions, in that students are not being asked to design studies to empirically test/answer the questions. Instead, these questions are simply meant to guide your review of the literature and your outside investigation — allowing you to then make a tentative claim based on the evidence you collect/present.
II. Literature to Be Reviewed
Possible Sources to Be Reviewed (please list at least five initial sources):
Burkins, J. M. (2007). Coaching for Balance: How to Meet the Challenges of Literacy Coaching. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Huberman, M. (1995). Networks that alter teaching: Conceptualizations, exchanges, and experiments. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 1(2), 193-211.
Kral, C. (2007). Principal support for literacy coaches. Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse. Retrieved September 19th, 2007, from http://www.literacycoachingonline.org/briefs/PrincipalSupportFinal3-22-07.pdf
Neufeld, B., & Roper, D. (2003). Coaching: A strategy for developing instructional capacity—Promises and practicalities (Prepared for The Aspen Institute Program on Education and The Annenberg Institute for School Reform). Cambridge, MA: Education Matters. Retrieved September 19th, 2007, from http://www.annenberginstitute.org/images/coaching.pdf
Toll, C. A. (2004, October). Separating coaching from supervising. English Leadership Quarterly, 5(7).
III. Fieldwork/Research Component
In this section, please write a brief paragraph outlining your investigation.
Example: In order to shed more light on the question of “how does principal support (or lack thereof) influence coaching work?” I intend to talk briefly with a literacy coach who has worked in her role for three years (and who I know from a school where I previously worked). I will ask her the following questions over the course of a half-hour, informal phone interview:
- How would you describe your professional relationship with your principal?
- To what extent do you and your principal share the same understanding of your role as a literacy coach?
- To what extent do you and your principal share a common vision for literacy instruction in your school?
- In what ways has your principal supported your work?
Is there anything else on this topic that you’d like to share with me?
- Have there been times when you haven’t felt supported?
- In what ways would you like to be more supported by your principal?
NOTE: If you intend to interview or observe someone as part of your outside investigation (as opposed to a document analysis), it is imperative that you let the participant(s) know up front that this is for a class paper, and that any information shared with you will be kept confidential (i.e., pseudonyms used in your paper and in class). Also, please state that all information you collect will not be used/distributed outside of this course context. If the participant(s) have any questions, you can have them contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.