Student Engagement and Support
Paper #3: Researched Argument
Assignment Due Dates:
Learning Objectives: This assignment is designed to help you learn to:
• Develop a manageable research topic.
• Locate and evaluate a variety of relevant sources.
• Develop a deeper understanding of your topic based on critical reading of sources.
• Synthesize and incorporate relevant evidence from sources to develop and support an arguable
Task: Write a well-developed, research-based, academic argument paper in which you use source
evidence to support your argument about a topic related to education. You can propose an action,
evaluate an existing program/policy, analyze causes of a problem/issue, or some combination or these.
Format: A research paper of about 1250 words (4-5 pages not including title page or References page, at
least 4 body paragraphs), formatted and documented in APA style (for our purpose this means a title
page, optional running header, references list and parenthetical citations; you do not need an abstract or
You should cite a minimum of 5 sources, and at least 1 must be an academic journal article found
through your research. You may use readings assigned for class, but at least 5 sources must come from
your independent research. You may use any of the following types of sources; there’s no requirement to
use any type beyond at least one peer-reviewed journal article:
• Academic journal articles
• Government documents
• Newspaper or magazine articles
• Websites (e.g. policy or advocacy organization, postsecondary institution, government)
Digital/online versions of any of these sources are fine.
Evaluation criteria: This paper is worth 20% of your course grade. Your paper should:
• Make an argument about your topic, not report on it.
• Develop ideas through effective choice, use, and analysis of relevant evidence.
• Identify and refute opposition or obstacles to your argument.
• Use clear, coherent and concise structure and language.
• Introduce, integrate and cite/reference source material correctly, using APA style.
I encourage you to talk to me about your topic ideas, in addition to the feedback on the discussion
You can write about any level of education, from early childhood to university, and may focus on a
country other than Canada as long as you can find relevant source material in English. If you’re interested
in a topic and not sure if it can fit under “education,” talk to me!
In choosing a topic, look for something relevant and interesting to you. You may want to develop a topic
from your personal experience: What would you change about your education (at any level) if you could?
What difficulties have you faced? What/who has helped you? What are your educational and career goals
and how might Douglas College or other institutions/organizations better help you achieve them?
You can also use one of our course readings as a jumping-off point, exploring topics like growth mindset
training or grading in more depth.
Or consider topics in these general areas:
Strategies for Success, Student Engagement and Support: Evaluate or propose a program designed to
help students access or adjust to post-secondary education (there is a lot of research on helping students
successfully make the transition in first year, for instance); or look at programs/strategies to help students
stay in school, succeed in school, or graduate at any level from elementary to post-secondary.
You might focus on a specific group of students that is less represented or could benefit from targeted
programs or support: e.g. women (under-represented in STEM fields), men (under-represented in postsecondary overall), athletes, low-income students, people with mental illness or a disability, international
students, LGBTQ students, youth with lived experience in care, Indigenous students.
This could include cost-saving or financial support measures like open access textbooks. However, you
may not write about tuition costs or tuition-free post-secondary; I find this topic is too complex for such a
short paper and students who attempt it are generally not successful. (It’s not because these are bad
BC Curriculum Changes: Examine some aspect of the new BC Curriculum such as personalized learning,
interdisciplinary learning, Indigenization, a focus on core competencies, or approaches to assessment and
evaluation (including report cards/grades). Are these good practices, and is BC implementing them well?
Best practices for teaching and learning: online learning; key skills like reading or math, especially for
young students; innovations like the “flipped classroom” or problem-based learning; how to make group
projects or team-based learning more effective; academic dishonesty and cheating.
Technology in the classroom: pick one technology! e.g. note-taking on laptops (lots of contradictory
research), e-reading for elementary students, use of apps and “gamified” learning, technology to improve
online or blended learning.