Capstone Project Chapter Guidelines This description is intended to provide guidelines only, and should be adapted for individual studies. Note that the recommended number of pages for each section is for a one-person project. The headings and subheadings are formatted in APA style. Note also that your papers need to be double-spaced, with paragraphs indented, and only 1 double- spaced return between each paragraph. (For purposes of saving space, these guidelines are single-spaced.) CHAPTER ONE Introduction or Statement of Purpose Start off with a Ta-Da statement (described as a “narrative hook” by Creswell, 2003) and a brief introductory paragraph which leads to your description of the purpose of the study. This chapter should be 3-5 pages. Purpose of the Study (or Problem Statement) The purpose of this study was to… Watch your verb tense—be consistent! Background (or Significance of the Study) This is the section that “grounds” the study in the field or in the literature. Use 4- 6 references. It consists of a mini-lit review, focused primarily on the significance of the study. Tell the reader know why it’s important, based on gaps in the field (it’s never been done before), or future or present needs. You can cite local statistics, when relevant, to illustrate the importance. Setting (or Audience) This is a brief description (not too many details) of who is being studied and where the study is being done. You usually do not name the organization or school system or give other identifying information, unless the group has agreed to be identified. Assumptions This is the only place you can refer to yourselves as I or We. This is about who you are, the assumptions you might bring into the study, your experience and expectations, and why it is important to you. Limitations (or Scope of the Study) This can be combined with Assumptions (above) or done separately. Here you talk about what the study does and does not cover. You caution the reader to not generalize or make broad interpretations from your results. Definitions Define important terms you use that may have several definitions and that need clarification for the reader. You can use bullets and do not need complete sentences. Cite references for definitions when appropriate. These may be backed up by citations, but do not need to be. Summary Briefly wrap up this section with a summary type paragraph that describes the purpose of the study and its significance. Each chapter should start on a new page… CHAPTER TWO Literature Review Introduce the literature review first with a reminder about what the study is about. Next, describe the layout of the chapter, e.g., There were three predominant themes in the literature on…. This review will first address these themes, then will describe the…, and finally, will summarize the current thinking in the field on…. The organization of the chapter that you have described in the first paragraph should parallel the subheadings in your chapter. This will make your Table of Contents much easier to do. This section should be 8-10 pages or more. First Theme Subheading Here are some ways to think about the literature review. First, you need to give the reader an overview on the research and thinking that are in the literature on this topic—give a good background. This may include pros and cons, or several schools of thought that are not necessarily in agreement with each other. You want to show the reader that you have done your homework—that you know what is out there and you have done a balanced search on the topic. Another Subheading You may also want to do an historical overview—how was this issue addressed in the past? Sometimes an historical perspective will be your first theme. The order of your subheadings will be determined by your topic and the information you find in your literature, and can be planned out with guidance from your committee chair Something else to think about is if you have subheadings under subheadings. Then you need to check with the APA guidelines on “levels of headings” and be sure to be consistent throughout your paper. Another Subheading An important thing about the lit review is that you cannot outline it until you have delved into the literature—you will not know the themes until you have discovered them. And then it is a circular kind of process—themes emerge, they lead to more themes, so you have some additional topics to search for, etc. You want to shoot for 20-30 references here. There will also be some repetition from Chapter One, since you will have drawn from the literature to describe the significance of the study. Repetition is part of the process--but do not do it in a word-for-word fashion. Summary In this paragraph, remind the reader what the overall study is about, what the literature review addressed, and do a smooth transition sentence to the next chapter. CHAPTER THREE Methodology This chapter is about what you did and how you did it. Start with a reminder about the purpose of the study. Then do a brief description of the layout of the chapter, e.g…. This chapter will first describe the setting and participants studied, will next discuss the development of the survey, and will conclude with a description of the process used to gather and analyze the data. This chapter should be 4-8 pages long. Setting and Participants (or you can do a separate section on each) Decide if this is anonymous or not; give demographics; you should also talk about how the participants were selected—randomly? From a school district list? Was it a purposive sample? Also mention a reference to the Human Subject application, e.g., Participants were identified from a list of teachers in the local school district (see Appendix A for copies of the Human Subjects forms). You will need to include some of the elements of this in the Appendix—a copy of the letter from IRB granting you permission to move forward on your study, a blank copy of the Consent Form, the form or letter that solicited your participants, and the letter from the person in authority who gave you permission to do the study in their organization. Research Design (or Survey Development or Curriculum Development, or Research Procedures) Here you just describe the process used. Whenever appropriate or possible, anchor your methods in the literature—use the research text as a reference, or references on interviewing techniques, or survey development resources. If you are designing a curriculum, reference sources on curriculum development. Data Gathering and Analysis (or Curriculum Pilot, or whatever is appropriate) Describe how you gathered your data—if you did not describe your sampling procedure above, describe it here. Describe how you made sense of the raw data. For example, if you did a statistical analysis, describe what you did. If you drew themes from interviews, describe how you did that. If you piloted a curriculum, describe how you evaluated it and revised it based on the results of the evaluation. And remember—this is only about what you did and how you did it—save the actual results for the next chapter!! Summary Just a brief summary paragraph that transitions to the next chapter. CHAPTER FOUR Results and Discussion Start out by reminding the reader what the study was about and how the study was done, and then describe the layout of the chapter. You have a couple of choices here—some people prefer to have chapter 4 be just about results. Then chapter 5 is Discussion and Conclusions. Do what works for you and your data. At any rate…here’s what you do with results and with the discussion. This chapter should be at least 8 pages, and could be as long as 20 pages. Results Always be sure to give the context—if you are reporting on data from survey questions, remind the reader about the overall survey, and which section you are talking about at the moment. Graphs, charts, summaries are appropriate, but no raw data. Check APA for how to label tables. Instruments (surveys, interview questions, pre and post tests) go in the appendix. Raw data also go in the appendix. If you did interviews or have open-ended questions on a survey, you can include quotes as examples in your analysis. Subheadings about themes within your results. Depending on your study, you may want to use another level of subheading to organizing the reporting of your results. Discussion Somewhere at this point, either here or above in the results section, you synthesize your data—summarize it, talk about what it is about. Then you move into the interpretation of it—what does it mean in a focused way, and what does it mean in a more global way? This is where you close the circle…tie your results to all the foundations you have established in the first two chapters—why the study was important, how it fit into the literature in the field, what your study set out to do—make sense of the data in that context. So you would say things like, These results support what so and so said about this in 1995, or These results are not consistent with the trend that so and so reported on, or These results illustrate the importance of blah blah blah, as documented in several studies in the last decade. You will need to cite all these references in APA format, as you did in the earlier chapters. Summary Provide a brief summary paragraph about the results and how they fit in the literature foundation. CHAPTER FIVE Summary and Conclusions In this chapter you do yet another brief summary of what you did and why, and then talk about the broader implications. This chapter should be 4-8 pages long. You may want a section subheaded Significant Findings (or you may not). Educational Implications You definitely want this section. This should be your finest writing here—in the long-term, and from the big picture perspective, how can what you did make a difference in the field of education? Recommendations for Future Research This is where you can pull together all those things you learned along the way and wish you had included in your study or wish you had done differently, or have seen the need for as a result of your research. Summary (or Conclusions) A perfect little paragraph that puts it to rest, or energizes some future student to pick up where you left off! Curriculum Projects If you have developed a curriculum, the last two chapters may not apply to you— but there will still be a research element, e.g., some type of data gathering/evaluation and analysis, and this should be written up in the format of a research design. With a curriculum, it is suggested that you include the results of the pilot (when applicable) or the input from an advisory board in chapter three, and any revisions you have made based on those results. In most cases, your reference list will follow chapter three. Then, rather than chapters four and five, you will present your curriculum. It should be a stand-alone product with its own introduction, table of contents, and resource list of recommended readings when applicable. It does not need to be in APA format, but should be as user- friendly as possible. The one guideline you do need to follow is the 1 ½ inch margin on the left, so that it is easily read when bound.
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