term paper on education

How to Write a Term Paper From Start to Finish

term paper on education

The term paper, often regarded as the culmination of a semester's hard work, is a rite of passage for students in pursuit of higher education. Here's an interesting fact to kick things off: Did you know that the term paper's origins can be traced back to ancient Greece, where scholars like Plato and Aristotle utilized written works to explore and document their philosophical musings? Just as these great minds once wrote their thoughts on parchment, you, too, can embark on this intellectual voyage with confidence and skill.

How to Write a Term Paper: Short Description

In this article, we'll delve into the core purpose of this kind of assignment – to showcase your understanding of a subject, your research abilities, and your capacity to communicate complex ideas effectively. But it doesn't stop there. We'll also guide you in the art of creating a well-structured term paper format, a roadmap that will not only keep you on track but also ensure your ideas flow seamlessly and logically. Packed with valuable tips on writing, organization, and time management, this resource promises to equip you with the tools needed to excel in your academic writing.

Understanding What Is a Term Paper

A term paper, a crucial component of your college education, is often assigned towards the conclusion of a semester. It's a vehicle through which educators gauge your comprehension of the course content. Imagine it as a bridge between what you've learned in class and your ability to apply that knowledge to real-world topics.

For instance, in a history course, you might be asked to delve into the causes and consequences of a significant historical event, such as World War II. In a psychology class, your term paper might explore the effects of stress on mental health, or in an environmental science course, you could analyze the impact of climate change on a specific region.

Writing a term paper isn't just about summarizing facts. It requires a blend of organization, deep research, and the art of presenting your findings in a way that's both clear and analytical. This means structuring your arguments logically, citing relevant sources, and critically evaluating the information you've gathered.

For further guidance, we've prepared an insightful guide for you authored by our expert essay writer . It's brimming with practical tips and valuable insights to help you stand out in this academic endeavor and earn the recognition you deserve.

How to Start a Term Paper

Before you start, keep the guidelines for the term paper format firmly in mind. If you have any doubts, don't hesitate to reach out to your instructor for clarification before you begin your research and writing process. And remember, procrastination is your worst enemy in this endeavor. If you're aiming to produce an exceptional piece and secure a top grade, it's essential to plan ahead and allocate dedicated time each day to work on it. Now, let our term paper writing services provide you with some valuable tips to help you on your journey:

start a term paper

  • Hone Your Topic : Start by cultivating a learning mindset that empowers you to effectively organize your thoughts. Discover how to research a topic in the section below.
  • Hook Your Readers: Initiate a brainstorming session and unleash a barrage of creative ideas to captivate your audience right from the outset. Pose intriguing questions, share compelling anecdotes, offer persuasive statistics, and more.
  • Craft a Concise Thesis Statement Example : If you find yourself struggling to encapsulate the main idea of your paper in just a sentence or two, it's time to revisit your initial topic and consider narrowing it down.
  • Understand Style Requirements: Your work must adhere to specific formatting guidelines. Delve into details about the APA format and other pertinent regulations in the section provided.
  • Delve Deeper with Research : Equipped with a clearer understanding of your objectives, dive into your subject matter with a discerning eye. Ensure that you draw from reputable and reliable sources.
  • Begin Writing: Don't obsess over perfection from the get-go. Just start writing, and don't worry about initial imperfections. You can always revise or remove those early sentences later. The key is to initiate the term papers as soon as you've amassed sufficient information.

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Term Paper Topics

Selecting the right topic for your term paper is a critical step, one that can significantly impact your overall experience and the quality of your work. While instructors sometimes provide specific topics, there are instances when you have the freedom to choose your own. To guide you on how to write a term paper, consider the following factors when deciding on your dissertation topics :

choose a term paper topic

  • Relevance to Assignment Length: Begin by considering the required length of your paper. Whether it's a substantial 10-page paper or a more concise 5-page one, understanding the word count will help you determine the appropriate scope for your subject. This will inform whether your topic should be broad or more narrowly focused.
  • Availability of Resources : Investigate the resources at your disposal. Check your school or community library for books and materials that can support your research. Additionally, explore online sources to ensure you have access to a variety of reference materials.
  • Complexity and Clarity : Ensure you can effectively explain your chosen topic, regardless of how complex it may seem. If you encounter areas that are challenging to grasp fully, don't hesitate to seek guidance from experts or your professor. Clarity and understanding are key to producing a well-structured term paper.
  • Avoiding Overused Concepts : Refrain from choosing overly trendy or overused topics. Mainstream subjects often fail to captivate the interest of your readers or instructors, as they can lead to repetitive content. Instead, opt for a unique angle or approach that adds depth to your paper.
  • Manageability and Passion : While passion can drive your choice of topic, it's important to ensure that it is manageable within the given time frame and with the available resources. If necessary, consider scaling down a topic that remains intriguing and motivating to you, ensuring it aligns with your course objectives and personal interests.

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Term Paper Outline

Before embarking on the journey of writing a term paper, it's crucial to establish a well-structured outline. Be mindful of any specific formatting requirements your teacher may have in mind, as these will guide your outline's structure. Here's a basic format to help you get started:

  • Cover Page: Begin with a cover page featuring your name, course number, teacher's name, and the deadline date, centered at the top.
  • Abstract: Craft a concise summary of your work that informs readers about your paper's topic, its significance, and the key points you'll explore.
  • Introduction: Commence your term paper introduction with a clear and compelling statement of your chosen topic. Explain why it's relevant and outline your approach to addressing it.
  • Body: This section serves as the meat of academic papers, where you present the primary findings from your research. Provide detailed information about the topic to enhance the reader's understanding. Ensure you incorporate various viewpoints on the issue and conduct a thorough analysis of your research.
  • Results: Share the insights and conclusions that your research has led you to. Discuss any shifts in your perspective or understanding that have occurred during the course of your project.
  • Discussion: Conclude your term paper with a comprehensive summary of the topic and your findings. You can wrap up with a thought-provoking question or encourage readers to explore the subject further through their own research.

How to Write a Term Paper with 5 Steps

Before you begin your term paper, it's crucial to understand what a term paper proposal entails. This proposal serves as your way to introduce and justify your chosen topic to your instructor, and it must gain approval before you start writing the actual paper.

In your proposal, include recent studies or research related to your topic, along with proper references. Clearly explain the topic's relevance to your course, outline your objectives, and organize your ideas effectively. This helps your instructor grasp your term paper's direction. If needed, you can also seek assistance from our expert writers and buy term paper .

how to write a term paper

Draft the Abstract

The abstract is a critical element while writing a term paper, and it plays a crucial role in piquing the reader's interest. To create a captivating abstract, consider these key points from our dissertation writing service :

  • Conciseness: Keep it short and to the point, around 150-250 words. No need for lengthy explanations.
  • Highlight Key Elements: Summarize the problem you're addressing, your research methods, and primary findings or conclusions. For instance, if your paper discusses the impact of social media on mental health, mention your research methods and significant findings.
  • Engagement: Make your abstract engaging. Use language that draws readers in. For example, if your paper explores the effects of artificial intelligence on the job market, you might begin with a question like, 'Is AI revolutionizing our work landscape, or should we prepare for the robots to take over?'
  • Clarity: Avoid excessive jargon or technical terms to ensure accessibility to a wider audience.

Craft the Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your entire term paper and should engage readers from the outset. To craft an intriguing introduction, consider these tips:

  • Hook Your Audience: Start with a captivating hook, such as a thought-provoking question or a compelling statistic. For example, if your paper explores the impact of smartphone addiction, you could begin with, 'Can you remember the last time you went a whole day without checking your phone?'
  • State Your Purpose: Clearly state the purpose of your paper and its relevance. If your term paper is about renewable energy's role in combating climate change, explain why this topic is essential in today's world.
  • Provide a Roadmap: Briefly outline how your paper is structured. For instance, if your paper discusses the benefits of mindfulness meditation, mention that you will explore its effects on stress reduction, emotional well-being, and cognitive performance.
  • Thesis Statement: Conclude your introduction with a concise thesis statement that encapsulates the central argument or message of your paper. In the case of a term paper on the impact of online education, your thesis might be: 'Online education is revolutionizing learning by providing accessibility, flexibility, and innovative teaching methods.'

Develop the Body Sections: Brainstorming Concepts and Content

Generate ideas and compose text: body sections.

The body of your term paper is where you present your research, arguments, and analysis. To generate ideas and write engaging text in the body sections, consider these strategies from our research paper writer :

  • Structure Your Ideas: Organize your paper into sections or paragraphs, each addressing a specific aspect of your topic. For example, if your term paper explores the impact of social media on interpersonal relationships, you might have sections on communication patterns, privacy concerns, and emotional well-being.
  • Support with Evidence: Back up your arguments with credible evidence, such as data, research findings, or expert opinions. For instance, when discussing the effects of social media on mental health, you can include statistics on social media usage and its correlation with anxiety or depression.
  • Offer Diverse Perspectives: Acknowledge and explore various viewpoints on the topic. When writing about the pros and cons of genetic engineering, present both the potential benefits, like disease prevention, and the ethical concerns associated with altering human genetics.
  • Use Engaging Examples: Incorporate real-life examples to illustrate your points. If your paper discusses the consequences of climate change, share specific instances of extreme weather events or environmental degradation to make the topic relatable.
  • Ask Thought-Provoking Questions: Integrate questions throughout your text to engage readers and stimulate critical thinking. In a term paper on the future of artificial intelligence, you might ask, 'How will AI impact job markets and the concept of work in the coming years?'

Formulate the Conclusion

The conclusion section should provide a satisfying wrap-up of your arguments and insights. To craft a compelling term paper example conclusion, follow these steps:

  • Revisit Your Thesis: Begin by restating your thesis statement. This reinforces the central message of your paper. For example, if your thesis is about the importance of biodiversity conservation, reiterate that biodiversity is crucial for ecological balance and human well-being.
  • Summarize Key Points: Briefly recap the main points you've discussed in the body of your paper. For instance, if you've been exploring the impact of globalization on local economies, summarize the effects on industries, job markets, and cultural diversity.
  • Emphasize Your Main Argument: Reaffirm the significance of your thesis and the overall message of your paper. Discuss why your findings are important or relevant in a broader context. If your term paper discusses the advantages of renewable energy, underscore its potential to combat climate change and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Offer a Thoughtful Reflection: Share your own reflections or insights about the topic. How has your understanding evolved during your research? Have you uncovered any unexpected findings or implications? If your paper discusses the future of space exploration, consider what it means for humanity's quest to explore the cosmos.
  • End with Impact: Conclude your term paper with a powerful closing statement. You can leave the reader with a thought-provoking question, a call to action, or a reflection on the broader implications of your topic. For instance, if your paper is about the ethics of artificial intelligence, you could finish by asking, 'As AI continues to advance, what ethical considerations will guide our choices and decisions?'

Edit and Enhance the Initial Draft

After completing your initial draft, the revision and polishing phase is essential for improving your paper. Here's how to refine your work efficiently:

  • Take a Break: Step back and return to your paper with a fresh perspective.
  • Structure Check: Ensure your paper flows logically and transitions smoothly from the introduction to the conclusion.
  • Clarity and Conciseness: Trim excess words for clarity and precision.
  • Grammar and Style: Proofread for errors and ensure consistent style.
  • Citations and References: Double-check your citations and reference list.
  • Peer Review: Seek feedback from peers or professors for valuable insights.
  • Enhance Intro and Conclusion: Make your introduction and conclusion engaging and impactful.
  • Coherence Check: Ensure your arguments support your thesis consistently.
  • Read Aloud: Reading your paper aloud helps identify issues.
  • Final Proofread: Perform a thorough proofread to catch any remaining errors.

Term Paper Format

When formatting your term paper, consider its length and the required citation style, which depends on your research topic. Proper referencing is crucial to avoid plagiarism in academic writing. Common citation styles include APA and MLA.

If unsure how to cite research paper for social sciences, use the APA format, including the author's name, book title, publication year, publisher, and location when citing a book.

For liberal arts and humanities, MLA is common, requiring the publication name, date, and location for referencing.

Adhering to the appropriate term paper format and citation style ensures an organized and academically sound paper. Follow your instructor's guidelines for a polished and successful paper.

Term Paper Example

To access our term paper example, simply click the button below.

The timeline of events from 1776 to 1861, that, in the end, prompted the American Civil War, describes and relates to a number of subjects modern historians acknowledge as the origins and causes of the Civil War. In fact, pre-Civil War events had both long-term and short-term influences on the War—such as the election of Abraham Lincoln as the American president in 1860 that led to the Fall of Fort Sumter in April of the same year. In that period, contentions that surrounded states’ rights progressively exploded in Congress—since they were the initial events that formed after independence. Congress focused on resolving significant issues that affected the states, which led to further issues. In that order, the US’s history from 1776 to 1861 provides a rich history, as politicians brought forth dissimilarities, dissections, and tensions between the Southern US & the people of slave states, and the Northern states that were loyal to the Union. The events that unfolded from the period of 1776 to 1861 involved a series of issues because they promoted the great sectional crisis that led to political divisions and the build-up to the Civil War that made the North and the South seem like distinctive and timeless regions that predated the crisis itself.

What is the Difference between a Term Paper and a Research Paper?

To master how to write a research paper , it's crucial to grasp the fundamental distinction between a term paper and a research paper: their scope and purpose.

A term paper is typically given at the conclusion of a course, serving as a comprehensive summary of the knowledge acquired during that term. It follows a structured format and may delve into specific topics covered within the course.

On the other hand, a research paper delves deeper, involving original research, thorough analysis, and the exploration of a specific subject. It often necessitates the use of primary sources and contributes novel insights to the field of study. Research papers are most commonly encountered in higher education and advanced academic levels, where in-depth exploration and critical thinking are paramount.

What Is the Fastest Way to Write a Term Paper?

To expedite your term paper writing process, the key is to initiate early, manage your time wisely, and maintain unwavering focus. Break the task into manageable segments and craft a well-defined outline. Prioritize your research, gather pertinent information efficiently, and resist the allure of unrelated sources. Write your paper systematically and with precision, and be sure to review and correct any errors. Always keep in mind that maintaining a steady work pace and committing to the task at hand are vital for achieving efficient term paper completion.

Final Thoughts

In closing, approach the task of writing term papers with determination and a positive outlook. Begin well in advance, maintain organization, and have faith in your capabilities. Don't hesitate to seek assistance if required, and express your individual perspective with confidence. You're more than capable of succeeding in this endeavor!

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Related Articles

How to Write a Diversity Essay

A Guide to Writing about Education

Introduction, types of papers, discipline-specific strategies.

Education is a field that bridges anthropology, sociology, psychology, science, and philosophy. When writing about education, you will utilize a myriad of writing styles and formats to address your essay topics.

As an education student, you may be asked to write:

  • journals/field-notes: think of field-notes as the clay for your future thoughts, observations, and ideas; these are informal
  • literature reviews: categorize or conceptualize relevant pieces of literature
  • analysis papers: analyze outside sources to promote your own interpretation of a particular theory or style
  • evaluative essays: look at a particular approach to teaching or theory of learning and discuss strengths and weaknesses
  • narratives present collected data through use of informal methods, imaginary letters to parents, recommendations for school, etc.
  • case studies: present problem, discuss others' thoughts on the issue, describe and analyze data/evidence, and draw conclusions
  • research and lab papers: identify research questions, contextualize the question in the research literature; identify hypotheses, methods of data collection and reduction and analysis; discuss findings.

Here are some suggestions for approaching any education paper:

  • Write about something that interests you Choose topics that will inspire you to delve deeper into research, synthesize new ideas, and spend time writing, revising, and editing. If you have trouble thinking of a topic, review your journal to see what ideas you have already come up with that might be applicable.
  • Read If you're feeling confused about what is expected of you, try reading similar papers. Get together with other students and read each other's papers. Or, ask the professor to suggest some journal articles for you to look at for inspiration.
  • Talk Talk about your paper, your ideas, and your problems. Talk with your professors, your classmates, and your friends. This will allow you to test out new ideas, find a topic you care about, talk through problems, and see where other people stand on your issue.
  • Write a really bad paper It will give you a foundation to build a really great paper. Just be daring and try out radical ideas.
  • Have ideas Make sure that each paper has an argument or an idea that you create. Outside support should be used to support the ideas you develop.
  • Ground ideas in outside information Your ideas should be firmly based in outside literature, field-notes, research, etc. Every idea should have some fact or observation that supports it.
  • Expect to revise Revise once, twice, as many times as needed. Be prepared to rip up a thesis or change your argument if necessary. Revision of grammar, content, and organization is key to an excellent paper. Good writing doesn't happen by magic.
  • Take risks in ideas and in structure If your idea doesn't work out, try something else. Use complex and diverse sentences. Have fun while you're writing!

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Examples of Term Papers that Got an A

Listed below are links to some term papers that got an "A" grade last year. When you compare these examples with each other, you will notice that there are three important aspects of an “A” paper. First, they are passionately written and captivating to read. Second, they have good grammar and style (following MLA, APA, or CMS style). Third, they are well documented with in-text references (in parentheses) linking their assertions to scholary articles in the list of references at the end of the paper. You will see what I mean when you follow these links to student papers that earned an “A” last year. All of these papers are copyrighted by their authors. Please respect these copyrights.

  • Aisha-McCormick-Digital-Marketing
  • Allie-Modica-Effectiveness
  • Allison-Winters-Technology-And-Learning-Styles
  • Amanda-Yanez-Social-Media-Advertising
  • Amanda-Warren-Social-Media-Likes
  • Austin-Abbruzzesi-Computer-Science-Classes-in-High-School-Curricula
  • Ben-Rohe-MOOCs
  • Brianna-Patrizio-Gender-Equality
  • Collette-Small-Social-Media
  • Danielle-Piha-CyberBullying
  • Danielle-Ragno-LinkedIn
  • David-Palgon-Facebook-and-Employers
  • Donna-Muchio-Self-Esteem
  • Ebenezer-Riverson-3D-Printing
  • Elizabeth-Hansen-WII-Physical-Therapy
  • Faith-Lumpkin-LinkedIn
  • Giselle-Malenchek-Digital-Piracy
  • Jessica-Morris-Healthy-Lifestyles
  • Katy-Snyder-Social-Media-Advertisers
  • Jillian-Loeffler-Social-Media-in-Your-Job-Search
  • Lauren-Vandaniker-Technology-Impact-On-Nursing-Practice
  • Lisa-Plumley-Multimedia-Young-Children
  • Madison-Gamble-Technology-As-A-Means-For-Therapeutic-Modalities
  • Maria-Medved-Hospitality-Industry
  • Lisa-Tossey-POV-Cameras-Education
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  • Tim-Ware-Social-Media-News-Outlet

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  • Elsevier - PMC COVID-19 Collection

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The Effect of COVID-19 on Education

Jacob hoofman.

a Wayne State University School of Medicine, 540 East Canfield, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

Elizabeth Secord

b Department of Pediatrics, Wayne Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Pediatrics Wayne State University, 400 Mack Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, USA

COVID-19 has changed education for learners of all ages. Preliminary data project educational losses at many levels and verify the increased anxiety and depression associated with the changes, but there are not yet data on long-term outcomes. Guidance from oversight organizations regarding the safety and efficacy of new delivery modalities for education have been quickly forged. It is no surprise that the socioeconomic gaps and gaps for special learners have widened. The medical profession and other professions that teach by incrementally graduated internships are also severely affected and have had to make drastic changes.

  • • Virtual learning has become a norm during COVID-19.
  • • Children requiring special learning services, those living in poverty, and those speaking English as a second language have lost more from the pandemic educational changes.
  • • For children with attention deficit disorder and no comorbidities, virtual learning has sometimes been advantageous.
  • • Math learning scores are more likely to be affected than language arts scores by pandemic changes.
  • • School meals, access to friends, and organized activities have also been lost with the closing of in-person school.

The transition to an online education during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may bring about adverse educational changes and adverse health consequences for children and young adult learners in grade school, middle school, high school, college, and professional schools. The effects may differ by age, maturity, and socioeconomic class. At this time, we have few data on outcomes, but many oversight organizations have tried to establish guidelines, expressed concerns, and extrapolated from previous experiences.

General educational losses and disparities

Many researchers are examining how the new environment affects learners’ mental, physical, and social health to help compensate for any losses incurred by this pandemic and to better prepare for future pandemics. There is a paucity of data at this juncture, but some investigators have extrapolated from earlier school shutdowns owing to hurricanes and other natural disasters. 1

Inclement weather closures are estimated in some studies to lower middle school math grades by 0.013 to 0.039 standard deviations and natural disaster closures by up to 0.10 standard deviation decreases in overall achievement scores. 2 The data from inclement weather closures did show a more significant decrease for children dependent on school meals, but generally the data were not stratified by socioeconomic differences. 3 , 4 Math scores are impacted overall more negatively by school absences than English language scores for all school closures. 4 , 5

The Northwest Evaluation Association is a global nonprofit organization that provides research-based assessments and professional development for educators. A team of researchers at Stanford University evaluated Northwest Evaluation Association test scores for students in 17 states and the District of Columbia in the Fall of 2020 and estimated that the average student had lost one-third of a year to a full year's worth of learning in reading, and about three-quarters of a year to more than 1 year in math since schools closed in March 2020. 5

With school shifted from traditional attendance at a school building to attendance via the Internet, families have come under new stressors. It is increasingly clear that families depended on schools for much more than math and reading. Shelter, food, health care, and social well-being are all part of what children and adolescents, as well as their parents or guardians, depend on schools to provide. 5 , 6

Many families have been impacted negatively by the loss of wages, leading to food insecurity and housing insecurity; some of loss this is a consequence of the need for parents to be at home with young children who cannot attend in-person school. 6 There is evidence that this economic instability is leading to an increase in depression and anxiety. 7 In 1 survey, 34.71% of parents reported behavioral problems in their children that they attributed to the pandemic and virtual schooling. 8

Children have been infected with and affected by coronavirus. In the United States, 93,605 students tested positive for COVID-19, and it was reported that 42% were Hispanic/Latino, 32% were non-Hispanic White, and 17% were non-Hispanic Black, emphasizing a disproportionate effect for children of color. 9 COVID infection itself is not the only issue that affects children’s health during the pandemic. School-based health care and school-based meals are lost when school goes virtual and children of lower socioeconomic class are more severely affected by these losses. Although some districts were able to deliver school meals, school-based health care is a primary source of health care for many children and has left some chronic conditions unchecked during the pandemic. 10

Many families report that the stress of the pandemic has led to a poorer diet in children with an increase in the consumption of sweet and fried foods. 11 , 12 Shelter at home orders and online education have led to fewer exercise opportunities. Research carried out by Ammar and colleagues 12 found that daily sitting had increased from 5 to 8 hours a day and binge eating, snacking, and the number of meals were all significantly increased owing to lockdown conditions and stay-at-home initiatives. There is growing evidence in both animal and human models that diets high in sugar and fat can play a detrimental role in cognition and should be of increased concern in light of the pandemic. 13

The family stress elicited by the COVID-19 shutdown is a particular concern because of compiled evidence that adverse life experiences at an early age are associated with an increased likelihood of mental health issues as an adult. 14 There is early evidence that children ages 6 to 18 years of age experienced a significant increase in their expression of “clinginess, irritability, and fear” during the early pandemic school shutdowns. 15 These emotions associated with anxiety may have a negative impact on the family unit, which was already stressed owing to the pandemic.

Another major concern is the length of isolation many children have had to endure since the pandemic began and what effects it might have on their ability to socialize. The school, for many children, is the agent for forming their social connections as well as where early social development occurs. 16 Noting that academic performance is also declining the pandemic may be creating a snowball effect, setting back children without access to resources from which they may never recover, even into adulthood.

Predictions from data analysis of school absenteeism, summer breaks, and natural disaster occurrences are imperfect for the current situation, but all indications are that we should not expect all children and adolescents to be affected equally. 4 , 5 Although some children and adolescents will likely suffer no long-term consequences, COVID-19 is expected to widen the already existing educational gap from socioeconomic differences, and children with learning differences are expected to suffer more losses than neurotypical children. 4 , 5

Special education and the COVID-19 pandemic

Although COVID-19 has affected all levels of education reception and delivery, children with special needs have been more profoundly impacted. Children in the United States who have special needs have legal protection for appropriate education by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 17 , 18 Collectively, this legislation is meant to allow for appropriate accommodations, services, modifications, and specialized academic instruction to ensure that “every child receives a free appropriate public education . . . in the least restrictive environment.” 17

Children with autism usually have applied behavioral analysis (ABA) as part of their individualized educational plan. ABA therapists for autism use a technique of discrete trial training that shapes and rewards incremental changes toward new behaviors. 19 Discrete trial training involves breaking behaviors into small steps and repetition of rewards for small advances in the steps toward those behaviors. It is an intensive one-on-one therapy that puts a child and therapist in close contact for many hours at a time, often 20 to 40 hours a week. This therapy works best when initiated at a young age in children with autism and is often initiated in the home. 19

Because ABA workers were considered essential workers from the early days of the pandemic, organizations providing this service had the responsibility and the freedom to develop safety protocols for delivery of this necessary service and did so in conjunction with certifying boards. 20

Early in the pandemic, there were interruptions in ABA followed by virtual visits, and finally by in-home therapy with COVID-19 isolation precautions. 21 Although the efficacy of virtual visits for ABA therapy would empirically seem to be inferior, there are few outcomes data available. The balance of safety versus efficacy quite early turned to in-home services with interruptions owing to illness and decreased therapist availability owing to the pandemic. 21 An overarching concern for children with autism is the possible loss of a window of opportunity to intervene early. Families of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder report increased stress compared with families of children with other disabilities before the pandemic, and during the pandemic this burden has increased with the added responsibility of monitoring in-home schooling. 20

Early data on virtual schooling children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit with hyperactivity (ADHD) shows that adolescents with ADD/ADHD found the switch to virtual learning more anxiety producing and more challenging than their peers. 22 However, according to a study in Ireland, younger children with ADD/ADHD and no other neurologic or psychiatric diagnoses who were stable on medication tended to report less anxiety with at-home schooling and their parents and caregivers reported improved behavior during the pandemic. 23 An unexpected benefit of shelter in home versus shelter in place may be to identify these stressors in face-to-face school for children with ADD/ADHD. If children with ADD/ADHD had an additional diagnosis of autism or depression, they reported increased anxiety with the school shutdown. 23 , 24

Much of the available literature is anticipatory guidance for in-home schooling of children with disabilities rather than data about schooling during the pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics published guidance advising that, because 70% of students with ADHD have other conditions, such as learning differences, oppositional defiant disorder, or depression, they may have very different responses to in home schooling which are a result of the non-ADHD diagnosis, for example, refusal to attempt work for children with oppositional defiant disorder, severe anxiety for those with depression and or anxiety disorders, and anxiety and perseveration for children with autism. 25 Children and families already stressed with learning differences have had substantial challenges during the COVID-19 school closures.

High school, depression, and COVID-19

High schoolers have lost a great deal during this pandemic. What should have been a time of establishing more independence has been hampered by shelter-in-place recommendations. Graduations, proms, athletic events, college visits, and many other social and educational events have been altered or lost and cannot be recaptured.

Adolescents reported higher rates of depression and anxiety associated with the pandemic, and in 1 study 14.4% of teenagers report post-traumatic stress disorder, whereas 40.4% report having depression and anxiety. 26 In another survey adolescent boys reported a significant decrease in life satisfaction from 92% before COVID to 72% during lockdown conditions. For adolescent girls, the decrease in life satisfaction was from 81% before COVID to 62% during the pandemic, with the oldest teenage girls reporting the lowest life satisfaction values during COVID-19 restrictions. 27 During the school shutdown for COVID-19, 21% of boys and 27% of girls reported an increase in family arguments. 26 Combine all of these reports with decreasing access to mental health services owing to pandemic restrictions and it becomes a complicated matter for parents to address their children's mental health needs as well as their educational needs. 28

A study conducted in Norway measured aspects of socialization and mood changes in adolescents during the pandemic. The opportunity for prosocial action was rated on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 6 (very much) based on how well certain phrases applied to them, for example, “I comforted a friend yesterday,” “Yesterday I did my best to care for a friend,” and “Yesterday I sent a message to a friend.” They also ranked mood by rating items on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very well) as items reflected their mood. 29 They found that adolescents showed an overall decrease in empathic concern and opportunity for prosocial actions, as well as a decrease in mood ratings during the pandemic. 29

A survey of 24,155 residents of Michigan projected an escalation of suicide risk for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth as well as those youth questioning their sexual orientation (LGBTQ) associated with increased social isolation. There was also a 66% increase in domestic violence for LGBTQ youth during shelter in place. 30 LGBTQ youth are yet another example of those already at increased risk having disproportionate effects of the pandemic.

Increased social media use during COVID-19, along with traditional forms of education moving to digital platforms, has led to the majority of adolescents spending significantly more time in front of screens. Excessive screen time is well-known to be associated with poor sleep, sedentary habits, mental health problems, and physical health issues. 31 With decreased access to physical activity, especially in crowded inner-city areas, and increased dependence on screen time for schooling, it is more difficult to craft easy solutions to the screen time issue.

During these times, it is more important than ever for pediatricians to check in on the mental health of patients with queries about how school is going, how patients are keeping contact with peers, and how are they processing social issues related to violence. Queries to families about the need for assistance with food insecurity, housing insecurity, and access to mental health services are necessary during this time of public emergency.

Medical school and COVID-19

Although medical school is an adult schooling experience, it affects not only the medical profession and our junior colleagues, but, by extrapolation, all education that requires hands-on experience or interning, and has been included for those reasons.

In the new COVID-19 era, medical schools have been forced to make drastic and quick changes to multiple levels of their curriculum to ensure both student and patient safety during the pandemic. Students entering their clinical rotations have had the most drastic alteration to their experience.

COVID-19 has led to some of the same changes high schools and colleges have adopted, specifically, replacement of large in-person lectures with small group activities small group discussion and virtual lectures. 32 The transition to an online format for medical education has been rapid and impacted both students and faculty. 33 , 34 In a survey by Singh and colleagues, 33 of the 192 students reporting 43.9% found online lectures to be poorer than physical classrooms during the pandemic. In another report by Shahrvini and colleagues, 35 of 104 students surveyed, 74.5% students felt disconnected from their medical school and their peers and 43.3% felt that they were unprepared for their clerkships. Although there are no pre-COVID-19 data for comparison, it is expected that the COVID-19 changes will lead to increased insecurity and feelings of poor preparation for clinical work.

Gross anatomy is a well-established tradition within the medical school curriculum and one that is conducted almost entirely in person and in close quarters around a cadaver. Harmon and colleagues 36 surveyed 67 gross anatomy educators and found that 8% were still holding in-person sessions and 34 ± 43% transitioned to using cadaver images and dissecting videos that could be accessed through the Internet.

Many third- and fourth-year medical students have seen periods of cancellation for clinical rotations and supplementation with online learning, telemedicine, or virtual rounds owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 37 A study from Shahrvini and colleagues 38 found that an unofficial document from Reddit (a widely used social network platform with a subgroup for medical students and residents) reported that 75% of medical schools had canceled clinical activities for third- and fourth-year students for some part of 2020. In another survey by Harries and colleagues, 39 of the 741 students who responded, 93.7% were not involved in clinical rotations with in-person patient contact. The reactions of students varied, with 75.8% admitting to agreeing with the decision, 34.7% feeling guilty, and 27.0% feeling relieved. 39 In the same survey, 74.7% of students felt that their medical education had been disrupted, 84.1% said they felt increased anxiety, and 83.4% would accept the risk of COVID-19 infection if they were able to return to the clinical setting. 39

Since the start of the pandemic, medical schools have had to find new and innovative ways to continue teaching and exposing students to clinical settings. The use of electronic conferencing services has been critical to continuing education. One approach has been to turn to online applications like Google Hangouts, which come at no cost and offer a wide variety of tools to form an integrative learning environment. 32 , 37 , 40 Schools have also adopted a hybrid model of teaching where lectures can be prerecorded then viewed by the student asynchronously on their own time followed by live virtual lectures where faculty can offer question-and-answer sessions related to the material. By offering this new format, students have been given more flexibility in terms of creating a schedule that suits their needs and may decrease stress. 37

Although these changes can be a hurdle to students and faculty, it might prove to be beneficial for the future of medical training in some ways. Telemedicine is a growing field, and the American Medical Association and other programs have endorsed its value. 41 Telemedicine visits can still be used to take a history, conduct a basic visual physical examination, and build rapport, as well as performing other aspects of the clinical examination during a pandemic, and will continue to be useful for patients unable to attend regular visits at remote locations. Learning effectively now how to communicate professionally and carry out telemedicine visits may better prepare students for a future where telemedicine is an expectation and allow students to learn the limitations as well as the advantages of this modality. 41

Pandemic changes have strongly impacted the process of college applications, medical school applications, and residency applications. 32 For US medical residencies, 72% of applicants will, if the pattern from 2016 to 2019 continues, move between states or countries. 42 This level of movement is increasingly dangerous given the spread of COVID-19 and the lack of currently accepted procedures to carry out such a mass migration safely. The same follows for medical schools and universities.

We need to accept and prepare for the fact that medial students as well as other learners who require in-person training may lack some skills when they enter their profession. These skills will have to be acquired during a later phase of training. We may have less skilled entry-level resident physicians and nurses in our hospitals and in other clinical professions as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected and will continue to affect the delivery of knowledge and skills at all levels of education. Although many children and adult learners will likely compensate for this interruption of traditional educational services and adapt to new modalities, some will struggle. The widening of the gap for those whose families cannot absorb the teaching and supervision of education required for in-home education because they lack the time and skills necessary are not addressed currently. The gap for those already at a disadvantage because of socioeconomic class, language, and special needs are most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic school closures and will have the hardest time compensating. As pediatricians, it is critical that we continue to check in with our young patients about how they are coping and what assistance we can guide them toward in our communities.

Clinics care points

  • • Learners and educators at all levels of education have been affected by COVID-19 restrictions with rapid adaptations to virtual learning platforms.
  • • The impact of COVID-19 on learners is not evenly distributed and children of racial minorities, those who live in poverty, those requiring special education, and children who speak English as a second language are more negatively affected by the need for remote learning.
  • • Math scores are more impacted than language arts scores by previous school closures and thus far by these shutdowns for COVID-19.
  • • Anxiety and depression have increased in children and particularly in adolescents as a result of COVID-19 itself and as a consequence of school changes.
  • • Pediatricians should regularly screen for unmet needs in their patients during the pandemic, such as food insecurity with the loss of school meals, an inability to adapt to remote learning and increased computer time, and heightened anxiety and depression as results of school changes.

The authors have nothing to disclose.

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Writing Guides  /  How to Write a Good Term Paper (Updated for 2021)

How to Write a Good Term Paper (Updated for 2021)

How to Write a Good Term Paper

What Is a Term Paper?

Term papers are popular assignments in high school and college. They are typically longer assignments than regular essays, and allow you to do in depth research. Many professors request term papers at several points throughout the year, especially at the ends of each term, to assess your learning. A term paper can be about any subject , from the sciences to the arts. Therefore, it is a good idea to learn how to write a good term paper now.

As with other types of academic papers, a term paper generally has an introduction, body, and conclusion. This article will show you how to write a good term paper, how to pick the right subject for a term paper, and how to get the best help when you need it.

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Why Are Term Papers Different from Essays?

When you write a term paper, you will usually be expected to do research , and show what other people have written about the subject. However, a term paper should also show independent thought. A term paper is not regurgitating what other people have said, as with many types of research papers and reviews of literature. Rather, a term paper calls on you to present your findings with some new insight or awareness. For this, you need to come up with a strong idea or central argument.

How Long is a Term Paper?

Many students are frightened by the prospect of writing term papers because they can be longer than a regular essay assignment. Do not despair. Not all term papers are long. Some term papers are only a few pages long, but it is true, they can run to 20 pages or more. The length of a term paper depends on the class and the instructor.

If you have never written a term paper before, creating one can seem scary and even overwhelming. When you have trouble writing your term papers, always seek help from qualified writing tutors either in person or online. You can also view samples of other people’s term papers to help you with your work.

How to Get Help With Term Papers

Fortunately, there are steps you can follow to make sure you create the best possible paper and get a good grade. Viewing other people’s good term papers can help you structure your own and improve your writing in the future. You may also receive help with term papers to help you narrow down your subject or conduct research.

Following a plan to write your term paper can also help you reduce anxiety and stress, and being more comfortable will contribute to a higher-quality, well-written paper. The first thing you need to know when writing a term paper is how to pick a topic and come up with a good thesis statement. Then you can think about how to organize and format your term paper, proof read it, and prepare it to turn into your class.

Term Paper Topics

The following sample topics should give you a good idea about what to write about in different subject areas.

  • The causes and effects of the American Civil War.
  • The history and evolution of the sport of lacrosse.
  • Why female executives earn less than their male counterparts.
  • Historical trends in fashion design in Japan.
  • The major industries contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Three leadership theories and how to apply them.
  • Causes of schizophrenia.
  • Religious iconography in medieval Dutch art.
  • Tracing the origin and evolution of noodles from China to Italy.
  • The ethical questions posed by genetic testing.
  • Should Bank of America buy Citigroup?
  • Global influences on European jazz.
  • Is outsourcing ethical?
  • Aesthetics and concepts of beauty in different cultures around the world.
  • Gender roles and norms in Nigerian society.
  • The rhetorical strategies used by Martin Luther King.
  • Defining the proof for the historical Jesus.
  • The politics of race in Brazil.
  • Symbolism in the works of James Joyce.
  • The influences of Mughal India outside the subcontinent.
  • Possible solutions to the Middle East crisis.

Term Paper Format

The format of your term paper will vary considerably depending on the subject and the preferences of your professor. Usually, your term paper will include a title, an introduction, a body, a conclusion, and a list of references or works cited. However, check with your instructor for specific guidelines and preferences.

In many cases, the term paper format will also include subheadings. Subheadings divide longer term papers into smaller sections, almost like chapters in the book. Using subheadings helps you to organize your research better and creates a better flow for your ideas.

Short term papers may not need subheadings. The following basic term paper outline shows you how to structure your work into three main parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.

Term Paper Outline

I. Introduction

A. Start with an interesting sentence or two that grabs the reader’s attention, such as an astonishing fact, statistic, or anecdote.

B. Discuss why the topic is important.

C. Present your thesis statement.

A. Discuss the main points you are trying to make, based on your research.

B. Refer theory and to practical applications as you go about analyzing all the evidence.

C. Include references to primary and secondary sources in your analysis whenever possible.

III. Conclusion

In the conclusion to your term paper, ask yourself some questions:

A. What have you learned? What do you hope the reader has learned?

B. Where do you go from here? Do you have any advice for future research or how to apply what you learned?

Sample Term Paper Outline

I. Introduction: Every year, millions of United States veterans experience the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression with often devastating consequences. The suicide rates among veterans is higher than it is among the general population; by some counts, the suicide rate among veterans is almost twice as high. Therefore, it is important to study the ways the veterans’ health care system is failing and what can be done to provide early intervention and treatment.

II. Subheading: The Prevalence of Suicide Among Veterans

III. Subheading: Stigma Against Mental Health Care Among Veterans

IV. Subheading: How to Raise Awareness about Mental Health Among Military Leaders and Promote Mental Health Care

V. Subheading: The Importance of Changing Organizational Culture in the Military to Promote Mental Health

VI. Subheading: Providing Effective Mental Health Screenings After Discharge

VII. Subheading: Pilot Projects and Case Studies That Have Proven Effective in their Communities

VIII. Subheading: Suggestions for Public Policy

IX. Conclusion: Based on evidence and theory, the stigma against mental health is the primary impediment for veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health problems. Early intervention is critical, which is why the military needs to provide more regular screenings both for active duty members and for veterans after discharge. With a few changes to public policy and freeing up funding, the Veterans Administration can save American lives.

[related essays]

Steps For Writing a Good Term Paper

1.  Choose a Few Good Topics to Investigate

Before you launch into your term paper, spend some time brainstorming. The brainstorming process helps to loosen up your mind, freeing you from cognitive constraints and anxiety. Simply allow yourself to think creatively and openly about different subjects so that you come up with a topic that interests you. You will have a much easier time writing about something that interests you than something that does not, unless your term paper topic has been decided for you.

When you’re trying to decide what to write about, there will probably be several different topics that interest you. They might be completely different topics, or they might be different parts of the same topic. Make sure you come up with at least three or four things you’re interested in, and write them down. You could even go through your textbook for some ideas.

You’ll end up choosing only one to write your term paper on, but you want to make sure you have some options at first. If you choose only one topic right away and it doesn’t work out, you have to go all the way back to the beginning again and start all over. That’s best avoided.

2.  Gather Research on Your Topics

The foundation of a good term paper is research. Before you start writing your term paper, you need to do some preliminary research. Take your topics with you to the library or the Internet, and start gathering research on all of the topics you’re interested in.

Take a look at what you can find on each of the topics you’re considering, to see what you’ll have to work with if you choose a particular topic. You might find that some topics offer much more available information than others, which will help you decide what you are writing about.

You might also find that your topics are too broad to make a good paper, and you need to narrow them down a little bit in order to make them easier to write about. The research you’re doing will help guide you if you’re narrowing or changing topics. You can also seek help from your professor or a writing tutor during this stage of the term paper research process.

3.  Narrow Your Focus and Select Only One Topic from Your List

As you begin to narrow down your focus, one topic will stand out from the rest as the right choice from both an interest and information standpoint. That’s the one you’ll want to choose to write your term paper about. It’s interesting to you, and it’s something you can find plenty of research and information on. Those are both important when you’re going to be creating a term paper. You don’t want to be making things up to fill space, so you have to find a topic that has enough information to fill the number of pages you’ve been asked to write. Choosing a topic that interests you also makes writing about it easier and more fun, and you’ll produce a better paper that way.

4.  Outline What Your Paper is Going to Include

Outlining means organizing your thoughts. You do not have to create a formal outline for it to be useful. A quality outline can just as easily be a drawing or word map. Even if your professor doesn’t require an outline, you should create one to use when you write your paper. With an outline, you can become clearer about the specific direction your paper is taking and will stay focused and on task as you’re writing.

If you do not have an outline, your thoughts could be too disorganized, leading to frustrations as you write. Most expert writers know that writing without an outline can waste time, and your term paper could take twice as long. Therefore, you don’t want to start writing your paper, only to lose direction, and end up rambling or saying the same thing over and over again. An outline prevents most of the problems students make when they are new to writing term papers.

Your paper should start out strong, move through the points you want to make, and wrap up. An outline allows you to envision the entire paper from start to finish, just as a professional athlete visualizes how they are going to win a race. With an outline, you can get to the point where you already know what you are going to say and the writing flows from there. An outline can help you make sure you write cleanly and coherently, so that you can get the best possible grade. When you work from an outline, you also ensure that you don’t forget something important and end up leaving it out of your paper.

5.  Write Your Introductory Paragraph

Now comes the fun part. You begin writing your term paper by creating a strong introduction. To write the introduction, draw upon the emotional reasons you are interested in this subject. Create your introductory paragraph first, to allow you to communicate the purpose of the term paper.

The introduction should tell the reader what you’re going to address in your paper and give a little bit of background on the issue you’re addressing. You should also have a thesis statement that sums up the main objective your paper. The thesis statement is usually placed at the end of the introductory paragraph. Once you get the introduction completed, you can move on to the body of the paper and start making your points.

Depending on the length of the term paper, an introduction can be one paragraph or several. A longer term paper might require a longer introduction, so that you can give the reader valuable background information, or tell a story that illuminates the purpose of the subject. However, shorter term papers require only a paragraph leading the reader to your main points. Your introduction will be proportional to the rest of the term paper.

6.  Move Through the Body of the Paper One Paragraph at a Time

Don’t get ahead of yourself. Work as methodically as possible, sticking to your outline so you remain focused. Do not rush, even if you feel you are under pressure. You’ll want to work your way through each paragraph of your term paper carefully, so you don’t start making mistakes or leaving out important information that your readers will need or expect.

Each one of the paragraphs of your paper should be either a different subtopic or a transition to a different idea, so you don’t blend everything all together and confuse people reading the paper. Using subheadings can help you organize your paper effectively.

Also, take care not to change focus in the middle of a paragraph either. Rambling and veering off topic can confuse the reader and make your paper seem choppy. If you need help writing your body paragraphs in your term paper, make sure you seek help from a qualified writing tutor.

Most readers like it when you use good transition sentences in your term paper. A transition sentence will link one paragraph to the next, so that the ideas flow smoothly when moving from one subtopic or idea to another. The transition sentences are like connecting the dots. With transitions, your paper has a good flow to it. That can make it much easier and more interesting to read.

7.  Create a Strong Conclusion Paragraph

The last paragraph or section of your paper should be your conclusion. As with the introduction, the length of the conclusion will vary depending on the length of the term paper. A longer term paper can have a conclusion that is several paragraphs long because you need to provide the reader with suggestions for applying the research, such as making changes to public policy.

A conclusion also leaves the reader—and you—with a sense of closure. There are no loose ends. You did what you set out to do, nothing more and nothing less. You do not want to introduce any new ideas here, but you can talk about potential for future research based on what you learned.

A solid conclusion to a term paper should also be a wrap-up of everything you wrote about in the term paper. You can reiterate some of your main points, discuss the importance of the subject, and ultimately end on a strong note. Take some time to come up with a good concluding sentence or two, so your reader doesn’t feel like he or she has been left hanging. A writing tutor can help you design the perfect conclusion if you are struggling.

8.  Make Sure You Create a Reference Page in the Proper Style

A References page, also known as the Bibliography or Works Cited page, is an essential part of every term paper. Don’t forget about your reference page! You could get accused of plagiarism if you do.

The references page includes all the external sources you used to compose your term paper. It doesn’t matter if you used two sources or 50 sources, you need to make sure they’re all on your reference page in addition to being cited throughout the body of the paper. Give credit where credit is due; you would always want someone to do the same for you. The References page also shows the reader that you did your research, and di not simply make up all the information in your term paper.

Follow the guidelines for whatever style of citation your instructor wants you to use. The most common citation formats include APA, MLA, and Chicago style [A1]  . If the choice is up to you, choose the one you’re most comfortable with and make sure you’re consistent with citations in the paper and on the reference page, so you don’t end up losing points over something that could have easily been corrected or adjusted before you turned the paper in.

9.  Edit, Proofread, and Edit Again

Don’t underestimate the need to proofread and edit. Even if you write well and you’re really happy with your paper, the chances are high you can make some changes that will improve it. One of the best ways to find problems with your paper is to read it out loud and see how it sounds to you. You’ll catch mistakes much easier that way, and you’ll be able to fix them quickly and move on.

10.  Make Sure You Have a Good Title and the Right Formatting

Before you turn in your paper, spend some time creating a title that’s professional but will catch your reader’s attention. Also, make sure your paper is formatted the way your professor wants. It’s not just about the citation and references. The line spacing, margins, and other formatting issues also matter. If you’ve been given specifics and you don’t follow them, it can really hurt your grade, even if you write a good paper otherwise.

  • Plagiarism can get you a failing grade. Make sure you cite your sources correctly throughout your paper and create a good reference page.
  • Get started early. Don’t wait until the last minute to work on your paper, because you’ll be rushed and the end product won’t be as good.
  • Have a friend or family member read your paper, and see if they have questions or don’t understand something. A fresh set of eyes can really make a difference when editing a paper.

Congratulations! You now have a better idea of what a term paper is and how to write a good one. Now you are ready to start your term paper. If you need help at any stage of the writing process, always seek help from a qualified professional who can help you. Writing a term paper is something you will have to do again and again as a student. It pays to have a positive attitude, and even enjoy the process because most professors will require you to write a term paper.

Take the first step to becoming a better academic writer.

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  • A Research Guide
  • Writing Guide
  • Assignment Writing

How to Write a Term Paper

  • Purpose of a term paper
  • How to start a term paper
  • Structure and outline

Step-by-step writing guide

Standard term paper format.

  • Term paper examples
  • Writing tips

What is the purpose of a term paper?

How to start a term paper correctly.

  • Choose your topic by focusing on what inspires you unless you are already given a topic.
  • Take time to research and analyze your subject.
  • Start with a term paper outline (see our templates in the next sections).
  • Come up with a strong thesis statement before writing anything for body paragraphs.
  • Provide topic sentences and practical examples.
  • Provide a strong lesson in the conclusion if it suits the subject you write about.
  • Edit and proofread available information for trustworthiness.

Term paper structure and outline

  • Introduction. This is where you talk about the subject and a problem you are researching. It helps to introduce your thesis statement and explain the objectives that have been set.
  • Body Paragraphs. As a rule, in writing college term papers, one must write down several subheadings and headings to divide ideas and arguments into several (at least four) paragraphs. As done below, each body paragraph should contain one idea and a strong topic sentence.
  • Heading 1: History of the argument and background.
  • Heading 2: Extent of the problem that you write about.
  • Heading 3: Effects of the problem and possible causes.
  • Heading 4: Possible solutions and outcomes.
  • Conclusion. The final part should represent a strong summary and a response to your thesis statement.

Step 1: Data collection

Step 2: explaining research relevance, step 3: introducing your subject, step 4: literature review preparation, step 5: offering results and conclusions, step 6: structural term paper evaluation, step 7: check your citations and references.


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  • Most importantly, keep your term paper relevant to the main objectives of your study course.
  • Keep your tone reflective and natural as you write.
  • Double-check your grading rubric regarding limitations and obligatory requirements that must be met.
  • Always proofread your term paper aloud!
  • If you have an opportunity, consider editing your term paper with the help of a friend or a fellow college student.

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Best Education Essays of 2021: Our 15 Most Discussed Columns About Schools, COVID Slide, Learning Recovery & More

term paper on education

A full calendar year of education under COVID-19 and its variants gave rise to a wave of memorable essays in 2021, focusing both on the ongoing damage done and how to mitigate learning loss going forward.

While consensus emerged around several key themes — the need for extensive, in-depth tutoring, the possibilities presented by unprecedented millions in federal relief dollars for schools, the opportunity for education reimagined — there was far less agreement on whether to remediate or accelerate, which health and safety measures schools should employ, even how dire the shortage of teachers and school staff really is. 

From grade-level standards and hygiene theater to lessons from the Spanish flu and homeschooling, here are the 15 most read and buzzed-about essays of 2021:

term paper on education

Analysis: Focus on Grade-Level Standards or Meet Students Where They Are? How an Unintentional Experiment Guided a Strategy for Addressing Learning Loss

Learning Recovery: What’s the best way to support learning recovery in middle-grade math? Should schools stay focused on grade-level standards while trying to address critical learning gaps as best as they can? Or should they systematically address individual students’ unfinished learning from prior years so they can ultimately catch back up — even if that means spending meaningful time teaching below-grade skills? As educators and administrators wrestle with those questions as they prepare to return to school in the fall, contributor Joel Rose offers some guidance inadvertently found in a study of Teach to One , an innovative learning model operated by New Classrooms Innovation Partners, the nonprofit where he is co-founder and CEO. That research found performance in schools with accountability systems that focused on grade-level proficiency (and thus prioritized grade-level exposure) grew 7 percentile points, while those that operated under systems that rewarded student growth (and thus prioritized individual student needs) grew 38 points. While the study was never intended to compare results across schools in this way, the stark difference between the two groups could not be ignored. Math is cumulative, and the path to proficiency often requires addressing unfinished learning from prior years. For the middle grades, administrators and policymakers would be wise to question the grade-level-only gospel as they begin to plan students’ educational recovery. Read the full analysis . 

term paper on education

Lessons from Spanish Flu — Babies Born in 1919 Had Worse Educational, Life Outcomes Than Those Born Just Before or After. Could That Happen With COVID-19?

History: Contributor Chad Aldeman has some bad news: The effects of COVID-19 are likely to linger for decades. And if the Spanish Flu is any indication, babies born during the pandemic may suffer some devastating consequences . Compared with children born just before or after, babies born during the flu pandemic in 1919 were less likely to finish high school, earned less money and were more likely to depend on welfare assistance and serve time in jail. The harmful effects were twice as large for nonwhite children. It may take a few years to see whether similar educational and economic effects from COVID-19 start to materialize, but these are ominous findings suggesting that hidden economic factors may influence a child’s life in ways that aren’t obvious in the moment. Hopefully, they will give policymakers more reasons to speed economic recovery efforts and make sure they deliver benefits to families and children who are going to need them the most. Read the full essay .

term paper on education

Pittman & Darling-Hammond: Surveys Find Parents Want Bold Changes in Schools — With More Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom

Future of Education: Whatever they thought of their schools before the pandemic struck, parents now have strong opinions about what they want them to provide. They are looking beyond fall reopenings to rethink schooling, and they care about having good choices for interest-driven learning opportunities beyond the classroom . Two national parent surveys released in May shed new light on how to think about the often-used phrase “more and better learning.” Among the key findings, write contributors Karen Pittman and Linda Darling-Hammond: Parents want bold changes in schools, to make public education more equitable and learner-centered. But they also believe that home, school and extracurriculars play complementary roles in imparting the broad set of skills children need for their future success. This means educators and policymakers must support learning that extends beyond the school day, the school walls, the school staff and the traditional school approaches. Read the full essay .

term paper on education

High-Quality, High-Dosage Tutoring Can Reduce Learning Loss. A Blueprint for How Washington, States & Districts Can Make It Happen

Personalized Learning: There is near-unanimous, bipartisan agreement that tutoring is among the most promising, evidence-based strategies to help students struggling with learning loss . Decades of rigorous evaluations have consistently found that tutoring programs yield large, positive effects on math and reading achievement, and can even lead to greater social and motivational outcomes. It isn’t just the research community buzzing about tutoring — it is gaining momentum in policy circles, too. Which means there is a real opportunity — and responsibility — to design and deliver tutoring programs in a way that aligns with the research evidence, which is fortunately beginning to tell us more than just “tutoring works.” Contributors Sara Kerr and Kate Tromble of Results for America lay out a blueprint for how Washington, states and local school districts can make high-quality, high-dosage tutoring happen .

term paper on education

COVID-19 Raised Fears of Teacher Shortages. But the Situation Varies from State to State, School to School & Subject to Subject

Teacher Pipeline: Is the U.S. facing a major teacher shortage? Relatively low pay, a booming private sector and adverse working conditions in schools are all important elements in whether teaching is becoming an undesirable profession. But, writes contributor Dan Goldhaber, the factors that lead to attrition are diverse, so treating teachers as a monolith doesn’t help in crafting solutions to the real staffing challenges that some schools face. There is no national teacher labor market per se, because each state adopts its own rules for pay, licensure, tenure, pension and training requirements. And nationally, tens of thousands more people are prepared to teach than there are available positions. But while some schools have applicants lined up when an opening becomes available, others, typically those serving economically disadvantaged students, draw far fewer candidates. And schools tend to struggle to find teachers with special education or STEM training. The pandemic certainly raises concerns about teacher shortages; what is needed is a more nuanced conversation about teacher staffing to come up with more effective solutions to real problems. Read the full essay .

term paper on education

Clash of Cultures, Clash of Privilege — What Happened When 30 Low-Income Students of Color Were Admitted to Elite Prep Schools

Analysis: Programs like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance have long been regarded as groundbreaking solutions to the lack of diversity in the nation’s most elite prep schools. Teens who join these types of programs undergo a transfer of privilege that starts with their education and bleeds into every facet of their lives, forever altering their trajectory with opportunities that otherwise would likely be unattainable. But what assumptions do these programs subscribe to? And what lessons can be found in the experiences of the participants? In her Harvard senior thesis, contributor Jessica Herrera Chaidez followed 30 participants in a program that grants select socioeconomically disadvantaged students of color in the Los Angeles area the opportunity to attend famed independent schools. She found that the experiences of these students can be understood in various forms of twoness associated with this transfer of privilege, an internal struggle that begins with their introduction to the world of elite education and will come to mark them for their entire lives in a way that they aren’t even able to comprehend yet. Read more about her findings, and what some of these students had to say .

term paper on education

Steiner & Wilson: Some Tough Questions, and Some Answers, About Fighting COVID Slide While Accelerating Student Learning

Case Study: How prepared are district leaders, principals and teachers as they work to increase learning readiness for on-grade work this fall? That’s the question posed by contributors David Steiner and Barbara Wilson in a case study examining how a large urban district sought to adapt materials it was already using to implement an acceleration strategy for early elementary foundational skills in reading . Among the insights to be drawn: First, planning is critical. Leaders need to set out precisely how many minutes of instruction will be provided, the exact learning goals and the specific materials; identify all those involved (tutors, specialists, and teachers); and give them access to shared professional development on the chosen acceleration strategies. Second, this requires a sea change from business as usual, where teachers attempt to impart skill-based standards using an eclectic rather than a coherent curriculum. It is not possible to accelerate children with fragmented content. All efforts to prepare students for grade-level instruction must rest on fierce agreement about the shared curriculum to be taught in classrooms. What we teach is the anchor that holds everything else in place. Read the full essay .

term paper on education

Schools Are Facing a Surge of Failing Grades During the Pandemic — and Traditional Approaches Like Credit Recovery Will Not Be Enough to Manage It

Student Supports: Earlier this year, failing grades were on the rise across the country — especially for students who are learning online — and the trend threatened to exacerbate existing educational inequities. The rise in failing grades appears to be most pronounced among students from low-income households, multilingual students and students learning virtually . This could have lasting consequences: Students with failing grades tend to have less access to advanced courses in high school, and a failing grade in even one ninth-grade course can lower a student’s chances of graduating on time. Addressing the problem, though, won’t be easy. In many school systems, the rash of failed courses could overwhelm traditional approaches to helping students make up coursework they may have missed. In a new analysis, Betheny Gross, associate director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, implored school and district leaders to be especially wary of one long-established but questionable practice: credit recovery. Read more about her warning — as well as her recommendations for how districts should seek to reverse this learning loss .

term paper on education

Riccards: The 1776 Report Is a Political Document, Not a Curriculum. But It Has Something to Teach Us

Analysis: The 1776 Report was never intended to stand as curriculum, nor was it designed to be translated into a curriculum as the 1619 Project was. It is a political document offered by political voices. But, writes contributor Patrick Riccards, dismissing it would be a mistake, because it provides an important lesson . The American record, whether it be measured starting in 1619 or 1776, is hopeful and ugly, inspiring and debilitating, a shining beacon and an unshakable dark cloud. American history is messy and contradictory; how we teach it, even more so. For years, we have heard how important it is to increase investment in civics education. But from #BlackLivesMatter to 2020 electioneering to even the assault on the U.S. Capitol, the basics of civics have been on display in our streets and corridors of power. What we lack is the collective historical knowledge necessary to translate civic education into meaningful, positive community change. The 1776 Report identifies beliefs espoused by our Founding Fathers and many Confederates and reflected by those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. They are a part of our history that we must study, understand, contextualize and deconstruct. The 1776 Report becomes the proper close to the social studies lessons of the past four years. As the next chapter of American history is written, it is imperative to apply those lessons to significantly improve the teaching and learning of American history. Our nation’s future depends on better understanding our past .

term paper on education

There’s Lots of Education Data Out There — and It Can Be Misleading. Here Are 6 Questions to Ask

Student Data: Data is critical to addressing inequities in education. However, it is often misused, interpreted to fit a particular agenda or misread in ways that perpetuate an inaccurate story . Data that’s not broken down properly can hide gaps between different groups of students. Facts out of context can lead to superficial conclusions or deceptive narratives. In this essay, contributor Krista Kaput presents six questions that she asks herself when consuming data — and that you should, too .

term paper on education

Educators’ View: Principals Know Best What Their Schools Need. They Should Have a Central Role in Deciding How Relief Funds Are Spent

School Funding: The American Rescue Plan represents a once-in-a-generation federal commitment to K-12 schools across the country. The impact will be felt immediately: The $122 billion in direct funding will support safe school reopenings, help ensure that schools already providing in-person instruction can safely stay open and aid students in recovering from academic and mental health challenges induced and exacerbated by the pandemic. How these funds are distributed will shape the educational prospects of millions of students, affecting the country for decades to come. As they make rescue plan funding decisions, write contributors L. Earl Franks of the National Association of Elementary School Principals and Ronn Nozoe of the National Association of Secondary School Principals, states and districts should meaningfully engage and empower school principals throughout all phases of implementation. Principals, as leaders of their school buildings and staff, have unequaled insights into their individual schools’ needs and know which resources are required most urgently. Read the authors’ four recommendations for leveraging this expertise .

term paper on education

Case Studies: How 11 States Are Using Emergency Federal Funds to Make Improvements in College and Career Access That Will Endure Beyond the Pandemic

COVID Relief: The Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund gave states more than $4 billion in discretionary federal dollars to support K-12 schools, higher education and workforce initiatives. These were welcome resources, coming just as the pandemic accelerated unemployment and exacerbated declining college enrollment, hitting those from low-income backgrounds hardest. But as contributors Betheny Gross, Georgia Heyward and Matt Robinson note, most states have invested overwhelmingly in one-time college scholarships or short-term supports that will end once funds run out. In hopes of encouraging policymakers across the country to make more sustainable investments with the remaining relief funds, the trio spotlights efforts in 11 states that show promise in enduring beyond COVID-19. Read our full case study . 

term paper on education

In Thousands of Districts, 4-Day School Weeks Are Robbing Students of Learning Time for What Amounts to Hygiene Theater

School Safety: Last April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made clear that having good ventilation and wearing masks consistently are far more effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 than disinfecting surfaces. This clarification was long overdue, say contributors Robin Lake and Georgia Heyward of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, as scientists had long suspected that deep cleaning and temperature checks are more hygiene theater than a strategy for limiting the spread of an airborne virus. Thousands of school districts, however, had already built complex fall reopening plans with a full day for at-home learning. The result was a modified four-day week with students receiving significantly reduced live instruction. Eliminating a full day of in-person teaching was always a high-cost strategy from an education standpoint; now there is confirmation that it was totally unnecessary. Lake and Heyward argue that we cannot afford to throw away an entire day of learning and student support based on a false scientific premise .

term paper on education

Teacher’s View: How the Science of Reading Helped Me Make the Most of Limited Time With My Students & Adapt Lessons to Meet Their Needs

First Person: March 12, 2020, was contributor Jessica Pasik’s last typical day in the classroom before COVID-19 changed everything. When her district closed, she assumed, as did many, that it was a temporary precaution. But with each passing week, she worried that the growth in reading she and her first-graders had worked so hard for would fade away . Many pre-pandemic instructional approaches to teaching reading were already failing students and teachers, and the stress of COVID-19 has only exacerbated these challenges. When Pasik’s district reopened for in-person classes in the fall, they were faced with difficult decisions about how to best deliver instruction. One factor that helped streamline this transition was a grounding in the science of reading. Having extensive knowledge of what they needed to teach allowed educators to focus on how they would teach, make the most of the limited instructional time they had with students and adapt lessons to meet their needs. There are multiple factors that teachers cannot control; one person alone cannot make the systematic changes needed for all children to reach proficiency in literacy. But one knowledgeable teacher can forever change the trajectory of a student’s life. Students will face many challenges once they leave the classroom, but low literacy does not need to be one of them. Read her full essay .

term paper on education

Homeschooling Is on the Rise. What Should That Teach Education Leaders About Families’ Preferences?

Disenrollment: With school closures, student quarantines and tensions over mask requirements, vaccine mandates and culture war issues, families’ lives have been upended in ways few could have imagined 18 months ago. That schools have struggled to adapt is understandable, writes contributor Alex Spurrier. But for millions of families, their willingness to tolerate institutional sclerosis in their children’s education is wearing thin. Over the past 18 months, the rate of families moving their children to a new school increased by about 50 percent , and some 1.2 million switched to homeschooling last academic year. Instead of working to get schools back to a pre-pandemic normal, Spurrier says, education leaders should look at addressing the needs of underserved kids and families — and the best way to understand where schools are falling short is to look at how families are voting with their feet. If options like homeschooling, pods and microschools retain some of their pandemic enrollment gains, it could have ripple effects on funding that resonate throughout the K-12 landscape. Read the full essay .

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Home > JOURNALS > Essays in Education

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Essays in Education is a practitioner-focused journal that engages educators across disciplines on meaningful educational topics, advancements, and trends to aid in the timely dissemination and practical application of relevant educational research and experience. For our purposes, a practitioner is broadly defined as anyone who engages with others in the practice of teaching and learning in formal and/or informal settings.

Call for Papers Spring 2022

Current Issue: Volume 29, Issue 2 (2023)

Delivery Matters—or Does It? A Snapshot of Online Versus In-Person Instruction Carol A. Mullen

Discussing Yasmina Khadra’s novel The Sirens of Baghdad in the upper secondary classroom to promote intercultural learning Karl Ågerup

Revisioning the K-12 Teacher Tenure Process David Wolff

Preparing Educators to Coach for Equity: Title IX and the Power of a Coach Rebekah Dimick Eastman

Generation and Digital Citizenship among Doctoral Students: Another Debunking of the Digital Native Myth Jenna K. Ladd, Rebecca R. Simataa, and Danilo Lj. Bojić

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Book Review: Documentary Research in the Social Sciences by Malcolm Tight Patrick W. Leeport

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Education Term Papers Samples For Students

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Term Paper On Nurses in Politics

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Question #1. - Find the range, variance and standard deviation of this data set

Descriptive Statistics: NICOTINE

Variable N N* Mean SE Mean StDev Variance Minimum Q1 Median NICOTINE 500 0 0,8425 0,0155 0,3455 0,1194 0,0500 0,7000 0,9000 Variable Q3 Maximum Range NICOTINE 1,1000 1,9000 1,8500 - Create the relative frequency histogram for the nicotine level.

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An term paper examples on education is a prosaic composition of a small volume and free composition, expressing individual impressions and thoughts on a specific occasion or issue and obviously not claiming a definitive or exhaustive interpretation of the subject.

Some signs of education term paper:

  • the presence of a specific topic or question. A work devoted to the analysis of a wide range of problems in biology, by definition, cannot be performed in the genre of education term paper topic.
  • The term paper expresses individual impressions and thoughts on a specific occasion or issue, in this case, on education and does not knowingly pretend to a definitive or exhaustive interpretation of the subject.
  • As a rule, an essay suggests a new, subjectively colored word about something, such a work may have a philosophical, historical, biographical, journalistic, literary, critical, popular scientific or purely fiction character.
  • in the content of an term paper samples on education , first of all, the author’s personality is assessed - his worldview, thoughts and feelings.

The goal of an term paper in education is to develop such skills as independent creative thinking and writing out your own thoughts.

Writing an term paper is extremely useful, because it allows the author to learn to clearly and correctly formulate thoughts, structure information, use basic concepts, highlight causal relationships, illustrate experience with relevant examples, and substantiate his conclusions.

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Essay on Education for School Students and Children


500+ Words Essay on Education

Education is an important tool which is very useful in everybody’s life. Education is what differentiates us from other living beings on earth. It makes man the smartest creature on earth. It empowers humans and gets them ready to face challenges of life efficiently. With that being said, education still remains a luxury and not a necessity in our country. Educational awareness needs to be spread through the country to make education accessible. But, this remains incomplete without first analyzing the importance of education. Only when the people realize what significance it holds, can they consider it a necessity for a good life. In this essay on Education, we will see the importance of education and how it is a doorway to success.

essay on education

Importance of Education

Education is the most significant tool in eliminating poverty and unemployment . Moreover, it enhances the commercial scenario and benefits the country overall. So, the higher the level of education in a country, the better the chances of development are.

In addition, this education also benefits an individual in various ways. It helps a person take a better and informed decision with the use of their knowledge. This increases the success rate of a person in life.

Subsequently, education is also responsible for providing with an enhanced lifestyle. It gives you career opportunities that can increase your quality of life.

Similarly, education also helps in making a person independent. When one is educated enough, they won’t have to depend on anyone else for their livelihood. They will be self-sufficient to earn for themselves and lead a good life.

Above all, education also enhances the self-confidence of a person and makes them certain of things in life. When we talk from the countries viewpoint, even then education plays a significant role. Educated people vote for the better candidate of the country. This ensures the development and growth of a nation.

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Doorway to Success

To say that education is your doorway to success would be an understatement. It serves as the key which will unlock numerous doors that will lead to success. This will, in turn, help you build a better life for yourself.

An educated person has a lot of job opportunities waiting for them on the other side of the door. They can choose from a variety of options and not be obligated to do something they dislike. Most importantly, education impacts our perception positively. It helps us choose the right path and look at things from various viewpoints rather than just one.

term paper on education

With education, you can enhance your productivity and complete a task better in comparison to an uneducated person. However, one must always ensure that education solely does not ensure success.

It is a doorway to success which requires hard work, dedication and more after which can you open it successfully. All of these things together will make you successful in life.

In conclusion, education makes you a better person and teaches you various skills. It enhances your intellect and the ability to make rational decisions. It enhances the individual growth of a person.

Education also improves the economic growth of a country . Above all, it aids in building a better society for the citizens of a country. It helps to destroy the darkness of ignorance and bring light to the world.

term paper on education

FAQs on Education

Q.1 Why is Education Important?

A.1 Education is important because it is responsible for the overall development of a person. It helps you acquire skills which are necessary for becoming successful in life.

Q.2 How does Education serve as a Doorway to Success?

A.2 Education is a doorway to success because it offers you job opportunities. Furthermore, it changes our perception of life and makes it better.


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Artificial Intelligence in Teaching and Learning

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UD Leads the Conversation about AI in the Context of Teaching and Learning with an Interdisciplinary UD Working Group and Other Initiatives

When ChatGPT burst onto the scene in November 2022, educators across the nation — and media outlets, too — quickly recognized that the natural-language chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) had far-reaching implications for education, as students could use the tool to complete homework assignments or write essays.

The University of Delaware, already a leader in cutting-edge AI research, is now leading the conversation about AI in the context of teaching and learning. Through the  AI for Teaching and Learning Working Group , 26 faculty and staff members from units across the University are developing innovative teaching practices and policies in relation to emerging AI tools, beginning with a yearlong seminar series.

“AI is the single most powerful and disruptive technology of the 21st century — and we are only dimly aware of its potential,” said Matthew Kinservik, UD vice provost for faculty affairs. “It will disrupt every aspect of teaching, learning and research. But even as it upends our conventional practices, it will also improve access, fuel innovation and play a decisive role in how well we perform the two core functions of American higher education: providing a liberal education to prepare our students to be democratic citizens, and promoting cutting-edge research to improve our quality of life and maintain our global competitiveness.”

AI for teaching and learning

Formed in May 2023, the Working Group represents UD’s broad educational landscape. Charged by Provost Laura Carlson, the group will play a key role in UD’s partnership with the Ithaka S+R two-year project,  “Making AI Generative for Higher Education.”  This initiative brings together a select group of 19 institutions to assess the AI applications most likely to impact teaching, learning and research and to explore the long-term needs of institutions, instructors and scholars in this context.

During the 2023–24 and 2024–25 academic years, the Working Group will also provide specific guidance to the UD community on pedagogy, curriculum development, the assessment of student learning and program educational goals, academic integrity and research ethics. Collaborative outreach to faculty, staff, students and UD leadership is also an important part of the group’s work.

“When the University formalized this working group, it was embracing a transformative moment and establishing itself as a leader in how to approach generative AI,” said Michael David Evans, director of computing operations in UD’s  Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics  and one of the Working Group’s facilitators. “Prior to the Working Group, I was being asked regularly, ‘How is higher education going to respond to tools such as ChatGPT?’ The Working Group is one of the efforts to answer that question, but not only at our institution. We are finding that UD is emerging as a thought leader among our peer institutions.”

Matthew Kinservik, UD vice provost for faculty affairs, discusses the implications of AI in education and introduces representatives from the AI for Teaching and Learning Working Group at the Fall 2023 UD Board of Trustees retreat.

The Working Group is facilitated by a dynamic and interdisciplinary team of UD faculty and staff who are already engaged in cutting-edge explorations of AI in the context of education. They include Evans; Meg Grotti, associate university librarian for learning, engagement and curriculum support in UD’s  Library, Museums and Press ; Erin Sicuranza, director of UD’s  Academic Technology Services  (ATS); and Joshua Wilson, associate professor in the  College of Education and Human Development  (CEHD).

With a background in special education, Wilson studies how automated essay evaluation systems and other forms of machine learning can support student learning. With colleagues from the  College of Arts and Sciences  and CEHD, Wilson is now using AI to develop a new instructional approach for large foundational courses, where students can struggle to stay engaged or feel a personal connection to the material.

UD’s Library, Museums and Press has developed an  AI literacy tutorial  that helps students and faculty start a conversation about the appropriate use of AI, as well as workshops for students interested in the smart use of these tools.

ATS is engaged in an AI development project called  UD Study AiDE.   Spearheaded by Jevonia Harris, team leader for educational software engineering in ATS, this project will lead to a suite of learning tools that UD students can use to create their own study materials. In partnership with UD faculty, ATS is training an internal AI model to contextualize, summarize and generate materials related to UD course content from instructional video transcripts, learning management system pages and other supporting teaching documents.

“This project serves as a pioneering effort into the broader strategy of how emerging AI, generative AI and large language model technologies will be utilized at UD and in the greater higher education landscape,” Sicuranza said. “Having access to the Working Group — their expertise, passion and deliberate thinking — gives our team an excellent resource to guide our work.”

AI seminar series

To date, the group has established a yearlong seminar series for the UD community titled “ Navigating the Future of AI and Teaching and Learning in Higher Education .” These in-person and virtual seminars help UD faculty and staff understand the strengths, limitations, ethics and accessibility of AI and the implications of AI for teaching, learning and the future of higher education, and prepare students for the future of work and the workplace.

“Building AI literacy among students has to start with building AI literacy among the faculty and staff who teach, advise and mentor those students,” Wilson said. “The seminars are designed to provide insight and foster discussion on big concepts and issues in AI — What is generative AI? What are the ethical implications of allowing or disallowing students to use AI? What AI-related skills will students be expected to have when they enter the workforce? — as well as discipline-specific impacts that AI is having in fields as diverse as STEM, health care and human resources.”

The next seminar, scheduled for Dec. 7, will focus on AI and the future of higher education. Featuring Carlson and Kinservik, this seminar will survey the national landscape to see how public research universities are responding to AI and consider how UD can promote AI literacy and harness AI’s transformative power responsibly.

Similar to the seminar series, UD’s  Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning  will host a  faculty learning community  in the spring, which will provide a space for faculty to engage in cross-disciplinary conversations about their experiences with AI in teaching and learning.

AI research and graduate study

The Working Group also complements the work of UD’s  Data Science Institute  and the  Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence  (AICoE), as well as the work of a broad range of faculty and graduate students already engaged in AI research.

Led by Sunita Chandrasakeran, associate professor in the  College of Engineering ’s  Department of Computer and Information Sciences  (CIS), and Kathy McCoy, professor in CIS, AICoE supports AI research, collaboration and application development across campus. AICoE leverages high-performance computing technologies and intelligent sensing to foster scientific innovations and advances. It also hosts workshops and provides grants to promote multidisciplinary research projects fueled by AI innovations.

New this fall, the center also will support a  graduate certificate in AI , offered in partnership with CIS. This certificate program gives students the foundational skills and hands-on experience for a wide range of careers in AI research, development and application development. Students learn how to analyze and use appropriate AI techniques to address complex computational problems, design, implement and evaluate AI-based solutions and make informed judgements about using AI from a legal and ethical perspective.

“We’re looking forward to engaging with the leadership of the AICoE to identify ways that we can mutually reinforce and enhance each other’s work,” Wilson said.

To learn more about the Working Group, register for a seminar or access AI teaching and learning resources, visit the  AI for Teaching and Learning Working Group’s website .

Read this story on UDaily .

Article by Jessica Henderson.   Photos by Evan Krape and courtesy of Erin Sicuranza.

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Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Should Classroom Discipline Be Based in ‘Restorative Justice’?

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In “Straight Talk with Rick and Jal,” Harvard University’s Jal Mehta and I examine some of the reforms and enthusiasms that permeate education. In a field full of buzzwords and jargon, our goal is simple: Tell the truth, in plain English, about what’s being proposed and what it might mean for students, teachers, and parents. We may be wrong and will frequently disagree, but we’ll try to be candid and ensure that you don’t need a Ph.D. in eduspeak to understand us.

Today’s topic is restorative justice.

Jal: As with many of the things we discuss here, restorative justice is an idea that is admirable in theory but difficult to pull off in practice, in particular because it is so misaligned with much of how we do everything else in schools.

The central notion is that our approach to discipline is frequently misguided. One student breaks the rules, or in some way harms another student, and we punish the offender, often by sending them to the principal’s office or, in more serious cases, by suspending them from school. The result is that the offending student has very little opportunity to reflect on why what they did was wrong, and they miss more school, which creates additional academic problems. Some schools become discipline mills, where the same students are suspended over and over, with little chance of escaping this downward spiral. Relatedly, as has been covered extensively in the media over the past few years, the rates at which students of color are disciplined and suspended are significantly higher than those for white students , even if we control for other variables that are likely to affect the process.

Restorative justice posits a different approach . The idea here is that when an offense has been committed, students and an adult will come together to talk about the issue. Using a structured protocol, the offender will generally get to hear about what sort of harm they caused and offer some amends, and then the community gets to decide together how to move forward. The idea is to create a space of healing by repairing the harm, as well as to try to end the endless cycle of discipline and punishment.

The challenge is that the ethos of such a circle is so different from what prevails in most schools most of the time. My colleague Sarah Fine’s dissertation found that in the school she studied, students were bewildered by the efforts to do restorative justice because it was such a departure from the adult-centered “do as you’re told” ethos that characterized the rest of the school day. Adults similarly struggled to make these shifts, as they were required to share power and invest in deep relationships. Thus, I think that restorative justice is essentially an approach toward discipline for the school system we want to have, not the one we actually live in.

Discipline is often an issue that divides conservatives and liberals. What do you think, Rick?

Rick: It’s an important question. I think you’ve aptly captured the disjuncture between the good intentions of the restorative-justice advocates and the disappointing results their efforts have yielded. Where we disagree, I think, is how we interpret why that is. As I see it, the big problem is that restorative justice is aggressively, naively Rousseauian and ignores much of what we know about human behavior.

One kid insults, bullies, threatens, or assaults another. The solution? Get them together to reflect with an intensely concerned facilitator. To quote Tom Hanks’s 13-year-old character from “Big“: “I don’t get it.” It’s a nice sentiment. But, as a kid who spent plenty of time getting beat up and as an educator who’s seen a lot of approaches to discipline, I suspect it’s the kind of idea that usually works better in an earnest workshop than with real students.

Look, kids are still developing. They’re wired to test boundaries. That’s what they do. As a result, they benefit from norms, expectations, and predictability even more than grown-ups do. The core impulse behind restorative justice strikes me as willfully naïve.

I certainly don’t deny that restorative programs may work well in some settings, with highly trained staff, supportive families, and invested students. But, more broadly, I’m reminded of many other well-meaning social reforms that presume things will work swell if those uptight traditionalists would just back off. The results consistently disappoint. Efforts to curtail policing and border enforcement, for instance, haven’t yielded the hoped-for benefits. Instead, they’ve fueled explosions in crime and illegal immigration. It’s quite the stretch to imagine that reducing consequences for misbehavior wouldn’t lead to more misbehavior.

Worse, intentionally or no, my experience is that many programs billed as “restorative” ultimately seem to hold that traditional notions of “good behavior” reflect an outdated, oppressive construct. While some enthusiasts insist that theirs is just a better way to teach those traditional norms, vocal voices in the restorative-justice community tend to unapologetically blame misbehavior more on “problematic” societal structures than on bad choices, suggesting that they don’t ultimately accept the notion of personal agency—or that wrongdoers should be held personally responsible for their misbehavior.

Well, that’s my initial take. Aren’t you glad you asked? Looking forward to your response. Because I’m counting on you to alleviate some of my qualms.

Jal: I think you are going way up the ladder of inference. Just because we put kids in a circle to discuss misbehavior doesn’t mean that we’ve bought into a world with no rules or consequences.

I do think it is interesting to note that the more affluent the school is, the more students are treated with respect for their capabilities and intentions. For example, a recent comparative study showed that in a more affluent school, students were assumed to have “indelible moral worth,” and “taking a break” was framed as an opportunity to regain focus. Conversely, in the working-class school, moral worth was “contingent”: Good behavior led to tickets and prizes, whereas bad behavior resulted in fines and the shredding of tickets. Yet again, we see how behaviorism reigns in higher poverty environments, whereas we treat more affluent students as capable actors who can reflect on their behaviors and redirect themselves over time. What is promising about restorative justice is that it extends a more respectful way of thinking and behaving to all students, including the higher poverty and students of color who traditionally have not been afforded such respect.

At the same time, restorative justice asks more of teachers and other adults than traditional modes of discipline. Everyone knows how to send a kid to the principal’s office; not everyone knows how to run a restorative circle. The result is the kind of thing we almost always see in the first wave of studies of a reform: a conflicting blizzard of results , with some studies showing significant benefits and others suggesting negative unintended consequences. The implication, as is almost always the case, is that we should go slow, that people doing complex things need opportunities to learn and reflect in the company of others who already know how to do these things, and that moving too fast without building underlying skills will lead to poor quality, which in turn will spark backlash.

In the long run, though, restorative justice may be here to stay. David Cohen and I wrote a paper about “ why reforms sometimes succeed ,“ in which we identified a few features of reforms that have been sustained and institutionalized: They solve a problem that teachers have rather than a problem reformers wished teachers thought they have, they are aligned with prevailing local values, they have a political constituency that support them, and teachers either already know how to enact the reforms or are provided guidance so they can do so. Restorative justice checks many of these boxes: Teachers want to run a classroom in ways that doesn’t involve constantly sending out or suspending kids, it is consistent with prevailing values in many districts, and there is political support for restorative justice. The missing piece is the guidance, infrastructure, or professional learning, which is why we see such uneven results. It’s also not likely to be popular in deeply red political communities, but that’s OK; if restorative justice spread in the places where it was aligned with its values, that would still be progress.

Rick: Well, that’s all reasonable. I’ve always thought that the Mehta-Cohen take is a smart one and that it’s sensibly applied here. It sounds to me like you’re talking about a calibrated response that acknowledges the humanity of students, addresses practical challenges for teachers, and eschews over-the-top discipline in favor of something more focused and purposeful.

I’m certainly on board with that . And I’ll add that I heartily endorse getting students to reflect on their behavior, take ownership of their actions, and communicate constructively. I don’t want any readers to think that I’m taking issue with any of that. My skepticism of restorative justice doesn’t mean I’m opposed to helping students communicate or to minimizing disruptive punishments. If that’s what we’re talking about, as ways to humanize schools and bolster safety, then I’m on board.

But, again, that’s not what I’ve often encountered under the gauzy label of “restorative justice.” Indeed, the biggest hurdle to making these practices work isn’t just the implementation and training issues that you flag but the fact that—in my experience—the more prominent proponents don’t actually seem all that interested in traditional norms, boundaries, or notions of personal responsibility. Instead, piled under mounds of eduspeak is a presumption that traditional norms are suspect , boundaries are outdated, and personal responsibility is a matter of “blaming the victim.”

When that’s the case, I expect that implementation will inevitably be a mess. And I think that’s pretty much what we’ve seen. We could quarrel about how to interpret the (very) mixed evidence, but we’ve certainly seen plenty of data suggesting that students and teachers not infrequently report that schools that adopt “restorative” practices feel less safe and more chaotic.

So, where do we wind up? Well, we’re on the same page to the extent that we think some restorative-justice practices, diligently applied, may be useful—as long as it’s in the service of setting boundaries, establishing norms, keeping schools safe and orderly, and establishing caring cultures. To the extent, however, that “restorative justice” serves as shorthand for more ideological efforts to replace reality-grounded notions of agency and order with Rousseauian fever dreams, then I don’t think all the guidance or professional learning in the world will suffice.

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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Guest Essay

I Teach the Humanities, and I Still Don’t Know What Their Value Is

A photo illustration of a wooden table with one leg that is too short, which is propped up by a copy of “Ulysses” by James Joyce.

By Agnes Callard

Dr. Callard is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago and the author of “Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming.”

If a group of math students fails to learn the material, that might be because the teacher is not trying hard enough or because she has been inappropriately tasked with, for example, teaching calculus to toddlers. Supposing, however, that neither of these things is true — the teacher is passionately invested in teaching, and she has many suitable students — yet her students all fail the final exam, eventually we would be forced to say that she might not know math so well.

I believe that we humanists are in the position of this math teacher. We have been issuing a steady stream of defenses of the humanities for many decades now, but the crisis of the humanities only grows. In the face of declining student interest and mounting political scrutiny, universities and colleges are increasingly putting humanities departments on the chopping block.

We humanists keep on trying to teach people what the value of the humanities is, and people keep failing to learn our lessons. This suggests to me that humanists do not know the value of the thing they are trying to defend. We can spout pieties that sound inspiring to those already convinced of our cause, but so too can an ignorant math teacher “teach” math to those who already know it.

As a humanist — someone who reads, teaches and researches primarily philosophy but also, on the side, novels and poems and plays and movies — I am prepared to come out and admit that I do not know what the value of the humanities is. I do not know whether the study of the humanities promotes democracy or improves your moral character or enriches your leisure time or improves your critical thinking skills or increases your empathy.

You might be surprised to learn that this bit of ignorance poses no obstacle to me in the classroom. I suppose it would if I approached the teaching of Descartes as a matter of explaining why reading Descartes will make you a better person, but that is not how I teach Descartes, nor does any philosopher I know teach Descartes in that way. I am there to lay out the premises of his reasoning, to explain some of the relevant concepts, to entertain questions and objections and to work through the arguments together with the students to see if they hold water. We are searching, trying to find the value that may be there.

I once asked the best teacher I ever had why she no longer taught her favorite novel, and she said that she stopped teaching a book when she found she was no longer curious about it. The humanistic spirit is, fundamentally, an inquisitive one.

In contrast, defenses of the humanities are not — and cannot be — conducted in an inquisitive spirit, because a defensive spirit is inimical to an inquisitive one. Defensiveness is, it must be admitted, an understandable response when budgets are being cut and the chopping block is brought out and you need to explain why you shouldn’t be on it. It may be that humanists need to spend some of our time joining political battles, which, like all political battles, require their participants to pretend to know things that they do not actually know.

Nonetheless, we should be alert to the danger of becoming accustomed to putting our worst foot forward. An atmosphere of urgency and calls for immediate action are hostile to fields of study like literature and philosophy that require a contemplative mood, and the pretense of knowing what one doesn’t actually know is hostile to forms of inquiry that demand an open mind.

A defensive mind-set also encourages politicization. If the study of literature or philosophy helps to fight sexism and racism or to promote democracy and free speech — and everyone agrees that sexism and racism are bad and democracy and free speech are good — then you have your answer as to why we shouldn’t cut funding for the study of literature or philosophy. Politicization is a way of arming the humanities for its political battles, but it comes at an intellectual cost. Why are sexism and racism so bad? Why is democracy so good? Politicization silences these and other questions, whereas the function of the humanities is to raise them.

Defensiveness also threatens to infect our work as humanists. A posture that we initially assumed for the purposes of confronting skeptics comes to restructure how we talk to our students, how we construct our syllabuses and even how we read the texts we assign, which now must prove themselves useful toward whichever political goals currently receive the stamp of approval.

Humanists are not alone in their ignorance about the purpose of their disciplines. Mathematicians or economists or biologists might mutter something about practical applications of their work, but very few serious scholars confine their research to some narrow pragmatic agenda. The difference between the humanists and the scientists is simply that scientists are under a lot less pressure to explain why they exist, because the society at large believes itself to already have the answer to that question. If physics were constantly out to justify itself, it would become politicized, too, and physicists would also start spouting pious platitudes about how physics enriches your life.

I will admit that every time I hear of a classics department being cut, it hurts. I may not know why it is important to read Homer and Plato, but I do have a deep love for reading, teaching and pondering those texts. That love is what I have to share with others, as well as the surprise and delight of finding that people thousands of years dead can be one’s partners in inquiry.

If at some point I am called on to defend the study of Homer or Descartes at some official hearing, I will do my best, but I do not deem it right to change my approach to what I study and teach in anticipation of that encounter. I will not run to battle; the battle will have to come to me.

The task of humanists is to invite, to welcome, to entice, to excite, to engage. And when we let ourselves be ourselves, when we allow the humanistic spirit that animates us to flow out not only into our classrooms but also in our public-self presentation, we find we don’t need to defend or prove anything: We are irresistible.

Are the humanities valuable? What is their value? These are good questions, they are worth asking, and if humanists don’t ask them, no one will. But remember: No one can genuinely ask a question to which she thinks she already has the answer.

Agnes Callard ( @AgnesCallard ) is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago and the author of “Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming.”

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Welsh’s essay emphasizes need for antiblackness framework to reduce inequality in school discipline

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Dec 4, 2023, 10:11 AM

By Jenna Somers

Richard Welsh

According to an essay published in Educational Researcher , a decade of colorblind school discipline policy reforms have not disproportionally benefited Black students who remain the most often disciplined in schools and miss valuable classroom learning time. Given that fact, the authors say interventions directly targeting antiblackness in school policies and practices are needed.

Neha Sobti, a doctoral candidate at New York University, and Richard Welsh , associate professor of leadership, policy, and organizations at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development present a theoretical framework to support efforts to reduce racial discipline disparities in schools through a focus on normalized—and therefore largely unnoticed—anti-Black behaviors and policies. They suggest that researchers use the framework to organize and synthesize the expansive school discipline literature and to sharpen their own research practices in developing and testing hypotheses about antiblackness, including through the collection and analysis of empirical data. Sobti and Welsh also suggest shifting the research focus from students’ behavior to the behaviors of adults in schools to understand school discipline. They encourage district and school leaders to use the framework as a guide to develop interventions that disrupt rather than perpetuate antiblackness in the disciplinary process.

“The primary challenge in school discipline is reducing the rates at which Black students, especially Black students with disabilities, Black male students, Black low-income students, and Black homeless students, are excluded from classrooms and schools. A richer understanding of how antiblackness may flourish in the disciplinary process from how behavior is perceived in class to how office disciplinary referrals are resolved is foundational to disrupting discipline disparities. The Antiblackness in School Discipline framework provides an analytical tool to assist in that disruption,” said Welsh.

The researchers draw from Black Critical Theory and examine empirical evidence of antiblackness in the disciplinary experiences and outcomes of Black students in K-12 schools. They write, “BlackCrit in education is concerned with the specificity of everyday experiences of disregard, marginalization, and suffering of Black bodies in schools,” and “how educators’ disciplinary practices are rooted in and shaped by the currents of antiblackness in education. BlackCrit provides a lens to tease out how antiblackness manifests in the disciplinary process in schools and students’ disciplinary outcomes.”

Sobti and Welsh discuss six theoretical tenets of antiblackness—both within their broader societal contexts and examples of how they manifest within school discipline processes, such as through carceral discipline practices in the classroom; classroom behavioral expectations set by white, middle-class cultural norms; and a hyper focus on correcting student and family behavior rather than examining systemic antiblackness.

“If racial disparities in exclusionary discipline outcomes are a function of antiblackness while reforms remain largely colorblind, then it is unlikely that discipline disparities will be eliminated,” the authors write. “This essay offers a tool to analyze school discipline research, policy, and practice at the state, district, school, and classroom level, create spaces where Black children can self-actualize their own childhoods; understand experiences of Black children and families existing at the intersection of multiple oppressions; and divest from punitive and exclusionary systems while investing in systems of care.”

Keep Reading

Welsh’s study reveals school-level factors may be key to reducing exclusionary discipline

Welsh’s study reveals school-level factors may be key to reducing exclusionary discipline

Welsh’s studies reveal educators’ discretions may contribute to racial disparities in exclusionary discipline

Welsh’s studies reveal educators’ discretions may contribute to racial disparities in exclusionary discipline

Welsh’s study reveals persistent racial disparities in school exclusionary discipline, recommends promising reforms

Welsh’s study reveals persistent racial disparities in school exclusionary discipline, recommends promising reforms

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Navigating Uncharted Frontiers

Unessay—Gateway to Future Higher Education (HE) Assessments in an AI World?

Chitra SABAPATHY Centre for English Language Communication (CELC)

[email protected]

AI and Education  

Unessay, higher education, AI, student autonomy, multimedia, oral communication

Paper Presentation  

The rapid advancement of generative artificial intelligence (AI) has caused educators to find that their assessments (e.g., Kung et al., 2022) and pedagogies are vulnerable to them. However, it is important to recognise that AI should not solely be viewed from the perspective of facilitating cheating, particularly since tools like ChatGPT have become integrated into students’ lives. Instead of focusing on prohibitions or strictly monitoring for academic dishonesty, it would be beneficial to explore ways to embrace and utilise these technologies in education (Dawson, 2020) and design assessments that could represent “future realities” of respective disciplines. This presentation highlights the potential benefits of adopting “unessay” as an alternative pedagogical approach in higher education. Unessay offers students a degree of freedom, necessitates ownership, fuels passion (Jakopak et al.,2019), creativity, critical thinking, interdisciplinary understanding in which individuals articulate their ideas, beliefs, and identities. Students are afforded the autonomy to select their own topic within a specific subject area and determine their preferred method of presentation, provided that it is both captivating and impactful (O’Donnel, 2012). By granting students autonomy, fostering creativity, and encouraging critical thinking beyond conventional academic norms, unessay not only equips them with the essential skills required to navigate an AI-driven future but also offers them the freedom to explore alternative modes of expression (Nave, 2021). This approach engenders motivation and investment in their academic work. It also compels students to consider the intended audience, choose appropriate rhetorical strategies, and synthesise information effectively. This is evidenced in previous studies, such as how students used unessay in unique ways in history classes (Guiliano, 2022; Irwin, 2022; Neuhaus, 2022), histology of organ cells (Wood and Stringham, 2022), computer programming (Aycock et al., 2019), writing (Jakopak et al.,2019 and Sullivan, 2015), and applied cognitive psychology (Goodman, 2022). In CS2101 “Effective Communication for Computing Professionals”, the assignment task encouraged students to apply Gibb’s Reflective Cycle, involving describing unique experiences, reflecting on feelings, evaluating and analysing those experiences, and concluding with a future plan. This assignment departed from traditional written reflection essays, allowing students to use AI and innovative multimedia formats such as videos, podcasts, and infographics to express their insights and learning. Drawing from the implementation of the “unessay” strategy, its effectiveness as a teaching approach was assessed through an anonymous end-course survey. This survey incorporated both quantitative and qualitative feedback gathered from approximately 50 students who were enrolled in the course as well as tutors who taught on the course. The data provided insights as to how students engaged with the “unessay” strategy and what their perceptions of its effectiveness were, and the tutors’ perceptions of using this strategy in the course. This presentation aims to facilitate discussions and reflections on the unessay concept and how this could be integrated into higher education (HE) assessment, serving as a potential gateway to a more diverse and inclusive assessment framework.

Aycock, J., Wright, H., Hildebrandt, J., Kenny, D., Lefebvre, N., Lin, M., Mamaclay, M., Sayson, S., Stewart, A., & Yuen, A. (2019). Adapting the “Unessay” for use in computer science. Proceedings of the 24th Western Canadian Conference on Computing Education , 1–6.

Dawson, P. (2020). Cognitive offloading and assessment. In M. Bearman, P. Dawson, R. Ajjawi, J. Tai, & D. Boud (Eds.), Re-imagining University Assessment in a Digital World (pp. 37-48). Springer International Publishing.

Goodman, S. G. (2022). Just as long as it’s not an essay: The unessay as a tool for engagement in a cognitive psychology course. Teaching of Psychology, 0 (0), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1177/00986283221110542

Guiliano, J. (2022). The unessay as native-centered history and pedagogy. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 47 (1), 6-12. https://doi.org/10.33043/TH.47.1.6-12

Irwin, R. (2022). The un-essay, and teaching in a time of monsters. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 47 (1), 13-25. https://doi.org/10.33043/TH.47.1.13-25

Jakopak, R. P., Monteith, K. L., & Merkle, B. G. (2019). Writing science: Improving understanding and communication skills with the “unessay.” Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 100 (4), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1002/bes2.1610

O’Donnel, D. P. (2012, September 4). The unessay. Daniel Paul O’Donnell . http://people.uleth.ca/~daniel.odonnell/Teaching/the-unessay

Nave, L. (2021). Universal design for learning UDL in online environments: The HOW of learning. Journal of Developmental Education, 44 (3), 34-35. http://www.jstor.org/stable/45381118

Neuhaus, J. (2022). Introduction to the Fall 2022 Special Issue: Using the unessay to teach history. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 47 (1), 2- 5. https://doi.org/10.33043/TH.47.1.2-5

Sullivan, P. (2015). The UnEssay: Making room for creativity in the composition classroom. College Composition and Communication, 67 (1), 6-34. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24633867

Wood, J. L., & Stringham, N. (2022). The UnEssay project as an enriching alternative to practical exams in pre-professional and graduate education. Journal of Biological Education. Informa UK Limited , 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1080/00219266.2022.2047098

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After Supreme Court ruling, college applicants still write about race

The court’s rejection of affirmative action in admissions does not mean race is off limits for students.

term paper on education

Walking the streets of England as a Latina teenager, Estefany Cepeda Fana recalled getting “weird looks” around town and even hearing someone call her the n-word. But Cepeda resolved to embrace her multiracial identity as a native of the Dominican Republic.

That experience in a study-abroad program became material for her college essay.

“I quickly realized that being Dominican was what made me special and I shouldn’t hide that,” the 18-year-old from Paterson, N.J., wrote for the Common Application. “I washed my hair and let my curls shine. ... I knew I belonged because I worked hard to get there.”

Cepeda’s essay is one of many this fall that show an enduring — albeit limited — role for race in college admissions despite the landmark ruling from the Supreme Court in June that rejected affirmative action at selective schools . Even as the court majority struck down programs that had allowed race to be a factor in selection of an incoming class, the ruling acknowledged that applicants may continue to write about how race affected their lives “through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

With that green light, counselors and colleges are encouraging applicants more than ever to explore their racial and ethnic identities and their views on diversity. How these essays influence the decisions selective colleges make in coming weeks and months could become another flash point in the volatile debate over the pursuit of racial diversity in higher education. Schools also face the threat of lawsuits from affirmative action opponents eager to widen the impact of the court ruling.

Cepeda, who is applying to highly competitive colleges, told The Washington Post that she moved to the United States at age 8, not knowing any English, and that she is now a U.S. citizen. Her instinct, she said, is to be “more of a private person.” But her school counselor urged her to get personal in the application.

Erica Mickens, Cepeda’s counselor at College Achieve Public Schools in Paterson, said she worried the court ruling could create new barriers for worthy Black and Latino students. “I want students to know the importance of this essay,” Mickens said. “They’re all phenomenal. I don’t want them to be afraid to share who they are.”

After affirmative action, a White teen’s Ivy hopes rose. A Black teen’s sank.

The role of admission essays , from a few dozen words to 650, has long been a subject of fascination and (often misinformed) speculation.

Typically, colleges and universities scour these writing samples to learn more about applicants than they could otherwise glean from transcripts, test scores, recommendations and extracurricular résumés. Essays can be especially helpful for ultracompetitive schools with a seemingly endless supply of applicants who have stellar grades and scores.

In years past, many selective schools would consider an applicant’s race — pulled directly from demographic questionnaires — alongside academic credentials and other factors in a “holistic” review. Advocates said this racial preference was meant to give a slight “tip” on occasion to the chances of applicants from underrepresented groups who were, regardless, highly qualified. Critics said it too often discriminated against those who were White or Asian American.

Now the racial and ethnic profile of an applicant does not automatically appear in the application files an admission officer will read. That is a major change to comply with the court ruling that struck down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill .

Still, race might pop up in a student’s activity list. Or a teacher’s or counselor’s recommendation. Or a student’s essay.

“What if an applicant wrote an essay about how integral their racial identity was to them as a source of pride, and the cultural attributes of the racial heritage were very important?” Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked in October 2022 during oral arguments in the case. “Would that be okay?”

An attorney for Students for Fair Admissions, the plaintiff opposed to affirmative action, told Barrett that culture, tradition and heritage would not be off limits for universities to consider. The attorney, Cameron T. Norris, said the plaintiff objected to consideration of “race itself.”

Barrett joined the six-justice majority opinion that sided with the plaintiff. The ruling, from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., said colleges must treat an applicant “based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race.” The ruling also warned colleges not to attempt to “establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today.”

Generations of applicants have written about race. In 2017, a New Jersey student who was admitted to Stanford University tweeted that one of his application essays consisted of nothing more than “#BlackLivesMatter” repeated 100 times .

This year, in response to the ruling, numerous colleges are asking questions that appear designed to draw applicants out on diversity and identity.

Without affirmative action, how will colleges seek racial diversity?

Harvard asks for up to 200 words on this question: “Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard?”

Dartmouth College offers this prompt for up to 250 words: “ ‘It’s not easy being green …’ was the frequent refrain of Kermit the Frog . How has difference been a part of your life, and how have you embraced it as part of your identity and outlook?"

Dartmouth’s dean of admissions and financial aid, Lee Coffin, said the ruling’s impact should not be overstated. Essays and other elements of the application will get the same degree of consideration they always have, Coffin said. “The door remains open to holistic review, and to the storytelling of identity when it’s part of a student’s lived experience,” Coffin said in an August podcast episode .

College admission shops across America emphasize that they will comply with the ruling. But they can’t — and won’t — ignore what applicants write.

“As a practical matter, one can’t imagine an alternative in which colleges were somehow required to black out any discussion of race," said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a scholar at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, who was an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case. “That would be so extreme.”

To comply with the ruling and avoid potential litigation, Kahlenberg said, admission officers must focus on individual experiences in an evenhanded way. If the officers are impressed by a student’s story of overcoming racial discrimination, he said, they should also be impressed by stories of overcoming poverty or other disadvantages.

Kahlenberg said it is legally risky for colleges to rely too much on essays to pursue diversity. A safer strategy, he argues, is to also invest more in recruiting and financial aid. “I don’t think they should forget that litigation is also expensive,” he said.

“My background as an African-American has motivated me to help others find a space where they can fit in without judgment or scrutiny,” he wrote. “I have always wanted to help others feel welcomed.” — Ryan Baldwin, 17, a high school senior in Ellicott City, Md.

Ethan Sawyer, a counselor known online as the College Essay Guy, said he tells students that colleges still want to enroll a diverse class. “The short answer is, yes, you can write about race,” he said in September at a convention of the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Baltimore.

But the topic is fraught. “How do I do it in a way that matters and feels authentic?” they ask Sawyer. His reply, echoing the court opinion: Tie the essay to the strength of character and unique qualities you would bring to a campus.

Ryan Baldwin, 17, a high school senior in Ellicott City, Md., who identifies as Nigerian American, wrote about the experience of moving from a majority-Black school to one that was not. Baldwin said he enjoys calculus and is on the school math team.

“As an ‘academically inclined kid,’ ” he wrote, “people don’t pay much notice to you; as supposedly ‘the only academically inclined BLACK kid,’ the surprise in people’s eyes is very obvious.” Baldwin wrote of “feeling the sting of countless eyes when I walk through my school’s sea of racial majorities.” Sometimes, he wrote, “I want to hide my own skin.”

Baldwin also wrote that these feelings spurred him to get involved in his school’s Black Student Union and other groups. “My background as an African-American has motivated me to help others find a space where they can fit in without judgment or scrutiny,” he wrote. “I have always wanted to help others feel welcomed.”

Not done with your college application? No problem. You’re in.

Many students mention their race glancingly, or not at all. Sawyer said it is vital not to push them to write about topics they want to avoid. “Who am I as a White dude to tell students they need to write about their race?” he said.

Scott Albert Johnson, a college admission counselor in Jackson, Miss., said he advises students to think through why they want to write about their identity. “Shoehorning your race into the essay, that’s not likely to be productive,” he said. “I would never advise a student to discuss race or any other aspect of their experience in a way that feels inauthentic or is designed to outsmart the process.”

One Chinese American student from New England, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions for her applications, said she steered away from racial identity. “To speak honestly, there’s a lot of stereotypes associated with people from China,” she told The Post. “That was something I wanted to try to avoid. I didn’t want that to be the only factor that defined me. I have a lot of other interests, a lot of other passions.”

A student from California, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the application process, said she identifies as biracial, with Jamaican and French Canadian heritage. In her applications she worried about whether and how to discuss race in various prompts. “It’s shaped who I am, without a doubt, but it’s not the only thing about me,” she said.

She wrote her Common App essay about her identity and its influence on her academic interests — and then scrapped it. Then she wrote on a completely different topic, but it didn’t sound right.

She went back to her original essay.

“It was so stressful,” she recalled. “I sobbed at least a couple times, writing and rewriting and rewriting. I was reading my essays too many times. They were becoming incoherent.”

But she said she was happy with the result, an essay that explores being biracial and finding inspiration in great works from authors of color such as Toni Morrison. “I became aware of how important these books were more than ever before,” she wrote. “I wanted to make sure the horrors of the past wouldn’t be shrugged off with indifference, no matter how upsetting this history may be.”

  • After Supreme Court ruling, college applicants still write about race November 27, 2023 After Supreme Court ruling, college applicants still write about race November 27, 2023
  • After affirmative action, a White teen’s Ivy hopes rose. A Black teen’s sank. November 18, 2023 After affirmative action, a White teen’s Ivy hopes rose. A Black teen’s sank. November 18, 2023
  • Critic of affirmative action sues Naval Academy over race in admissions October 5, 2023 Critic of affirmative action sues Naval Academy over race in admissions October 5, 2023


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