Introduction (10 points):
Your introduction should be approximately 1 page in length and should include:
• A beginning statement or catchy short quotation or short story that seems to capture the overall message of what you want to say in the paper
• A brief description of your topic or issue. The description can include definitions of relevant concepts.
• A brief statement of your interest in the topic/issue, your point of view, your experience with the topic/issue
• A brief explanation of the context for your question. For example, why is this issue of importance right now in the field? Are there relevant Canadian or local statistics which help to put the topic in perspective?
• A brief outline of how you plan to explore the issue/topic in your paper
The Main Body of the Paper (60 points): (6 pages)
• Ecological Perspective
Consider your issue through the lens of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model. What connections can you make between your topic and families, communities, societal institutions, values and beliefs? How does your issue influence/play out across these systems?
• Societal Views and Changes throughout History
What are the predominant views about this issue within society or within the different groups that make up society (cultural/ethnic, income, gender, age, geographic)? Trace how our thinking about this issue has changed and evolved throughout history. You will generally find basic historical information in books. You will often find indications of current public views and attitudes in the daily newspaper and in popular magazines, television, etc.
• Current research and theories:
What different theories and approaches to the issue did you find in your research? You are likely to find that some writers will see the issue in very broad social, economic and political terms, while others will see it more in terms of how individuals experience and deal with it.
Discuss/summarize the current research related to your thesis. What sense do you make of the theories? How do these theories/ideas relate to class discussions and assigned readings? What approaches/explainations do you find most attractive? Why?
• The connection between the theory and real-life experience: How does this issue affect real people? It is often useful to include examples from current media sources. Depending upon your topic, it can also be very useful to talk to people who are experiencing the issue directly. Try to find ways to express these experiences in peoples’ own words, perhaps as brief stories. It is rarely useful to include whole interviews in your paper. Rather, you should summarize the useful points and/or pull out bits that make your point. Be sure to reference these accurately.
Aside from making your paper more interesting, these real-life stories help you to show the connections and tensions between individuals and society. You could include such stories in a separate section, or insert them throughout your paper as a way of contrasting the experiences of real people with the view of society and the ideas in the research.
• Implications for your work as an early childhood professional: State clearly the implications you see for early childhood practice as related to the issue you have explored. Will you make any changes to your practice? You might find it useful to focus on two areas:
implications for helping individuals and families
implications for community and social change, advocacy and prevention
You are not expected to know all the answers! A good research paper often raises as many questions as it answers.
Summary and conclusions (10 points): (1 page)
Reflect on your learning from a personal perspective:
• What did you learn from this project? What questions are you left with? What new questions came up for you? How might these questions guide your future learning?
• What knowledge, ideas, feelings and attitudes do you now bring to your work in early childhood?
Conclude your paper in a way that seems appropriate to you. It is often useful to summarize your arguments and discussion of the theory, referring back to your opening statement. It is often useful to end your paper with a short quotation or story that seems to “say it all”.