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Concept essays

Designing a Concept Paper

When you, as a student, move through the research process, and after defining your problem, you will need to think about the scope of the problem, how to investigate and examine the literature, and then limit and refine your literature review. What is needed to support your opinion? Looking at several publications to find valuable information on your topic gives you the initial "jump-start", but once you have gathered several resources, you will need to think about how to organize them.

Remember: Be as specific as possible when defining your problem and writing your discrepancy statement of a Concept Paper . This will allow you to zoom in on key descriptors needed to find primary sources that are specific to your area of concern.

You will want to gather a fair amount of information to substantiate the problem or need that you have identified. You must support your discrepancy statement with evidence. (You must also support your choice of strategies for addressing that problem or concern with literature.) Again, you will need to "narrow" your search as it relates to your statement.

Examination of the Literature

When looking for available resources/information on your topic, be sure to look for other authors who have worked with a similar population, setting, and/or factors/characteristics. Look for articles about studies, which have addressed the problem or need that you have identified to explore all of the strategies that have been used to address it. Also look for information that can be used in developing your needs assessment instrument.

Articles/Publications/Data

As you review the literature for your Concept Paper , be sure you keep notes on relevant information and maintain a running list of possible references. These notes should be written as you review individual documents so that you will remember what was important about each piece and so that you have all of the information that you will need for your reference list---so write down and store each reference citation, in APA format, in a running list, a database, or on note cards so that final compilation of the literature review and reference list will be organized. Summarizing each piece of information is not necessary unless you select it for your concept paper. However, you may decide, as you get deeper into the problem, that a particular piece of information could be useful and worth recording. Careful planning and documentation at this stage will keep you organized. The table below is an example of what you need to do for tracking information. APA examples are also provided within the table.

Overview of University/College Concept Essays

* The Purpose of Concept Paper

Setting: Provide any other information that is relevant to the problem or need.

Target Population: Describe your target population (who will be involved in the research project activities?): number, grade(s), gender, ethnicity, etc., and include other information you gather from or about this group. In this case, your target population (or "sample") will most likely be a group of students with whom you are currently working in your classroom, because this is a readily accessible population. This "sample" is not randomly selected. The individuals have been selected to participate in the project because they meet certain criteria that you have set as part of your method for identifying the problem (e.g., they are reading two or more grade levels below their current grade level; they had five or more referrals to the office, etc.).

For additional information on concept essay writing, please see Professor's advice on Concept Essay Writing

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