Graduation Project
The Paper - Topic Selection

The research topic should be one that requires cumulative knowledge across grade levels and content areas. It should be a natural outgrowth of interest and combine skills of all, or most, content areas. For example, a student who researches the changes in the ozone layer is using cumulative knowledge from English, math, science, and history.

The research topic should be one that is broad enough to allow the student access to enough information, yet narrow enough to make the research scope reasonable.
For example, a student choosing the topic First Aid would find it impossible to include EVERYTHING about first aid (home remedies, history of emergency services, the treatment of burns, how to stop bleeding, evolution of first aid courses, etc.) On the other hand, a student choosing the research topic The Application of Band-Aids to Skin Abrasions probably would not find enough information.

The research topic should be one in which the student is interested, but not one about which the student is already an expert. If a student has been a diabetic for ten years, worked closely with the Juvenile Diabetes Association, and has been a volunteer in the children’s diabetic ward in a local hospital, he or she probably already knows a great deal about the subject of juvenile diabetes. Unless that student pursues a new angle to diabetes, that topic might not yield much new learning.

The research topic should be one that is academically and creatively challenging to the student. The student should take care not to choose a topic that is limited to relatively simple ideas or one that has little application or extension possibilities. Making such a choice would relegate the essay, the product, and the presentation to the mundane and uninteresting. The topic should require an academic and creative s-t-r-e-t-c-h for the student.

Expenditures will not enhance the evaluation of the project. Students should avoid choosing topics that might involve expenses they are not prepared to handle. If the research will involve travel or long distance calls, the student may want to make another choice. If the product that grows out of the research will require expensive materials, the student may want to make another choice. Remember, the student is NOT EXPECTED to spend money in order to complete the project.

Students should avoid choosing topics that might endanger themselves or others. For example, experiments which are potentially explosive or activities such as handling poisonous snakes are not appropriate.

Primary research is a valuable component of any inquiry.
It may be wise for students to explore the possibilities for personal interviews, informal surveys, empirical observation, etc., before making a final selection of topic.

Some preliminary research may be helpful to the student. By reading about a certain topic, the student may expand his/her areas of interest. Possibilities for new areas of exploration may surface. For example, if a student was not able to find precisely what he or she needed but did find usable information, it is possible for him/her to change focus while keeping the same main topic.

Students should use good judgment to be certain that the topics they choose are appropriate for presentation to a Review Board and the general public. Remember that the senior English teacher, the mentor, and the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the student must approve the selection of the topic.

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