The Research Proposal

  • Each university has their own version of a proposal
  • They all share similar requirements and features
  • The only real difference is the way it is written and\ or presented
  • I strongly recommend that you visualizes your project as this will you understand your project

 

Title  

Background

  • Context: you need to situate your problem
    • Where does the problem exist (the university)
    • Who does the problem impact on (student and staff)
    • What does the problem reduce/ cause (communication, efficiency, satisfaction)
  • How do you know there is a problem to be solved?
    • Get two references which indicate there is an issue, debate, conflict or problem
    • Compare and contrast what other people have said (references)
  • Computing could also:
    • Compare similar software to prove that they can not do what you need
    • Do some user testing (questionnaire) or system testing (benchmarking) to highlight your problem
  • See academic potential and the problem for ideas

The Problem

  • How will your software be different to other peoples software?
  • How will your findings advance current debate or problem?
  • Two sentences – state the problem, do not explain it.

Suggest A Solution 

  • State what you want to do
  • State how you will do it
  • Four sentences – do not describe

Objectives

  • A list of things you will need to do:
    • To investigate (alternative solution or software)
    • To design (an artefact to overcome problem)
    • To explore (potential software requirements)
    • To examine (how users interact with the software)
    • To compare (performance or features)
    • To document (the system using technical drawings)

Resources

  • Hardware
    • Bullet point list of all required hardware
    • Based on all the software demands
  • Software
    • Bullet point list of all required software
  • Electronics
    • Bullet point list of all required electronics
      • Camera
      • Specialist equipment
  • Library
    • Bullet point list of all required library needs
    • State what topics you will need access to

Deliverables

  • It is good practice to link your deliverables with your objectives, for example:
    • Objective) To investigate strategies and techniques use within web security
    • Deliverable) Write a literature review covering web security and associated risks to the university website
  • List the major deliverables (things you will create or test) as bullet points:
    • Write (a literature review on ‘topic’)
    • Create (a project plan in the form of a Gantt chart)
    • Produce (design documentation)
    • Manufacture (a prototype of the ‘software’)
    • Test (the function of the prototype)
    • Demonstrate (the ‘software’ solving the problem)
  • See Deliverables for some more ideas

Ethics

  • You need to think about how your system might disadvantage or put its users at risk
  • See The statement of ethics for some ideas

Optional: depends on university

 

 Exemplar

(Based on Current Research – Not Staffs University)

Title

Web based impact tracker for educational support workers to support performance management success

Background

Recent changes to the national guidelines (SEN Green Paper 2012) relating to education intervention for students who are at risk of underperforming combined with the changes in financing schools (Department of Education 2010) has led to the first flicker of performance related management of support staff (teaching assistants, behaviour intervention workers etc…) which directly influence their pay (ATL survey of teaching assistants 2013).  Additionally, recent national studies have failed to show that support staff have a positive impact on students learning through using whole school data, Blatchford (2014).

Mobile devices offer an excellent platform, from which performance tracking software can be continually updated, allowing the support worker to quickly and efficiently record evidence of their impact and thus support their performance management targets.  A search of Google Play reveals that the current App’s labelled as performance management App’s are not directly related to education intervention.  However, there are App’s which are aimed at teachers and their tracking of registers and grades which are typically linked to a calendar.

Where these solutions are satisfactory for the average teacher their functions do not represent the requirements outlined in the SEN White paper, aimed at support staff within the classroom.  Moreover, the Pupil Premium (Department of Education 2014) indicates ‘that students must make progress.’  However, progress can be in any area of intervention which supports the individual child (academic, social, emotional, behavioural, family access to education).  This makes any generic application fairly unusable or not fit for purpose for targeted intervention work by support workers.

Similar Solutions (Key Players)

The landscape is not void of applications which offer tracking and monitoring functions for classroom-based support staff. However, these are often integrated within a whole school or enterprise platform reducing the feasibility of this approach for individual support workers who do not have workplace access to this type of system. Examples of these systems are highlighted below.

Example one) Performance management apps like ??? and ??? offer functions which allow the support worker to log what they have done and when they have completed it.  Some offer file upload or linking of photos to the log entry to increase validity.  However, these systems do not show or indicate the difference made to the individual student.

Example two) The ‘TeacherKit’ is a popular mobile app which is aimed at teachers and is a good representation of apps which are designed for educators.  These apps are focused on tracking attendance and grades of students whilst working in isolation of the school and their enterprise systems.  Typical functions include: (updated on Feb 2014)

  • Log students’ attendance
  • Record students’ grades
  • Add behavior notes for students
  • Create student level reporting

As with the performance management apps, they do not offer any indication of the difference which the support work has had on the individual student.

Example three) Typically, whole school systems (enterprise system) offer very basic functions for support staff because they have very limited access as defined within the schools’ data access policy.  These systems offer little more than a text box where the support worker can enter a text-based comment and are facilitated through the school’s student management system like SIM’s or the virtual learning environment such as RM or Moodle. Bespoke systems produced by local education authorities offer very few additional functions, which the author believes is due to the inability to provide a ‘one size fit all’ approach for the diverse demands of these front-line practitioners.

Again this system does not offer any indication of the difference which the support worker has had on the individual students other than some quantitative measure which ‘could be’ related to the intervention provided by the support worker.

Proposed Problem

Support staff performance is judged by the holistic progression of the individual students in positive behavior or academic advancement. However, there is no clear method for educational support staff to prove their individual impact and thus their contribution to the educational performance of the student(s) which they are supporting.

Proposed Aim

To assess the requirements of educational support staff when track and monitor their performance within the educational context in relation to performance related pay and individual learners attainment.

Proposed Solution

A system which is flexible enough to record student(s) performance and learning engagement will be explored as a possible solution to proving performance and thus justifying performance related pay.

Proposed Objectives

  1. A requirement assessment will be undertaken to identify the performance management needs of support workers within a targeted samples of schools to determine what functions are required for a likely solution
  2. A feasibility assessment will be undertaken to determine if a one size fits all application is a viable option based on the proposed functions identified in the requirements gathering stage
  3. Based on the requirements and the feasibility assessment and interface mockups will be tested to ensure that the software provides the correct options whilst allowing for cross function access
  4. A working prototype will be manufactured to test the real life application and practicalities of using such software within the educational context such as classrooms with focus in secondary schools
  5. Recommendations will be presented to facilitate future application development within this area

Proposed Deliverables

  1. A literature search covering all pertinent areas such as:
    1. The general perception of education support worker within the sector
    2. Performance management within education relating to classroom practitioners.
    3. National standards and expectations of educational support worker
    4. Internet accessibility within the educational setting
  2. Feasibility assessment
  3. Requirements assessment
  4. Design and concept assessment and feedback
  5. A working prototype application
  6. Real world data collection using the prototype application
  7. Conclusions and recommendations for future development

Proposed Resources

  • Hardware
    • Desktop computer
      • Monitor
      • Keyboard and mouse
      • Performance requirements based on software needs
        • 2ghz processor
        • 4gbs of RAM
    • Colour printer
    • Backup drive
    • Internet connection
    • Webhost
      • PHP and MySQL (HTML, CSS & JavaScript)
  • Software
    • Windows 8 operating system
    • Web browser (Google Chrome)
    • Webserver (serverToGo)
    • Ms Word (report)
    • MS PowerPoint (midpoint)
    • Ms Outlook (access to emails)
    • Gantt Chart Maker
  • Electronics
    • Mobile phone to test web interface on portable devices
  • Library
    • Books and electronic journals
      • Education
      • Teaching and supporting education
      • Software development
      • Coding guides for PHP, MySQL and JavaScript

Ethics

References

DfE SEN Review, 2012, Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability – progress and next steps, Assessed on 11th September 2013, http://www.flse.org.uk/DfE-SEN-Review.htm

http://www.education.gov.uk/b00208593/academy-funding-agreements—sept-2002-to-jan-2010/faa

http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupport/premium/b00231348/pupil-premium-information-for-schools-and-ap-settings

(ATL survey of teaching assistants 2013).

http://ioelondonblog.wordpress.com/category/peter-blatchford/ 

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