Making Curriculum Pop

I need help! I am having a lot of difficulty in trying to shape my dissertation into something more manageable. When I seek advice from my advisor and/or professors, I always receive conflicting advice, and I am re-thinking my topic because of this. Ugh!


My topic centers on the affect of NCLB on gifted and high achieving students. I wanted to confirm my hunch that students who enter a classroom not proficient in reading receive more resources and focus than the high achieving and gifted students.I first thought I would do a quantitative study, however, my interest has shifted towards a qualitative study.


A few days ago I was thinking of a study in which I would interview elementary, middle and high school students. I would try to determine their perceptions about the rigor of education they receive. Does this sound like a plausible topic?


I would appreciate any feedback...I am open to changing/refocusing my topic. Thank you!



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Replies to This Discussion

I think the focus of your dissertation is great! I have taught H.S. Chemistry and I am now managing undergraduate peer-facilitators for many university science courses. I have found that high achievers in the classroom need to be challenged and/or assisted as much as struggling learners. Boredom will set in very rapidly. Also, many high achievers attend university believing that they will get an A here as they did in high school, but they are lacking in reasoning and conceptual skills. This idea of relevance and concept associations and learning is not always presented to high achievers, because they can memorize of learn quickly. They are not shown skills to manage conceptual learning. I see this from Chemistry to Physics students.

About the qualitative study – If you intend to interview the students, that would be great. I think you will have to work on the questions to avoid leading them to answers. I also think you should interview their instructors as well. Also, presenting their course syllabus, tests, projects may help with the information you are trying to get at as well.

Just a thought, will you be comparing and contrasting the other programs as well for the struggling learners?

Interesting topic, Amie! There is a tension that lower performing students/schools recieve more funding, but more money doesn't necessarily translate to higher scores. You may want to look at data (both quatitative and qualitative) to illustrate this.  Also, narrow your focus to one of the 3 school levels. The data may be overwhelming using elementary, middle, and high school.

You have some great ideas rolling around :)  I, on the other hand, have dead space b/c I have so many interests :-)!

I hope my 2 cents was somewhat helpful...

Thanks to both of you! After thinking about it (obsessing is more like it!), I think I might have determined a focused direction...I am thinking of asking the question, "How has the -------- School District met the needs of high-achieving and gifted students under the NCLB guidelines?" This way I can do a mixed methods study. I can study the school improvement plans, staff development plans, budgets, etc. I can also interview the superintendent, director of special education, and teachers. I would also like to include an survey for students. I plan to frame this as a qualitative study so that I can really tell the whole story of the district's actions over a period of time. I'm sure I am forgetting something, but I know my dissertation chair will let me know!


Susan- I hadn't thought of contrasting the programs for struggling learners. I might consider adding that if I need to show a comparison or an unequal balance of resources, I guess. Thanks for that thought!


Stephanie- I totally get it about too many interests! I once had someone tell me, "a great dissertation is a FINISHED dissertation." I keep repeating that mantra as I contemplate changing my mind daily. Before I landed on my topic, I was trying to find a topic that would "change the world," but I had a professor say, "finish the dissertation, then go change the world." Good luck!



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