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SAC final field paper

jccohen's picture

Schools in American Cities, Spring 2015:

Final Field Paper


Final field paper:  As your final paper for this class you will write an extended (approx. 8-10 page) paper in which you integrate what you have experienced and learned in your placement with teachers and students in an urban education setting with relevant readings and discussions of critical contextual and educational issues.


The steps outlined below are intended to guide you through your final paper.


Gathering final data.  You are in the final week of your Praxis placement.  Consider your research question or focus, as articulated in your earlier field paper and perhaps revised since that time.  Take the opportunity during your final visits to collect any relevant site documents (e.g. copies of assignments or student work, photos, etc.) and to ask questions of teachers and students that will deepen your understanding of what’s going on at the site in terms of your question/focus.


Reviewing and analyzing your data.  You have kept a field log and collected related site documents.  Your first step in conducting a data analysis will be to read through everything, keeping in mind what it is that you’re trying to understand--your question/focus.  Then read through a second time, highlighting incidents, comments, and so forth that speak to your question/focus.  Be open to the possibility that your data suggest contradictory “readings” of the issue, e.g. an instructional strategy that works in one instance doesn’t work in another.  It’s important to try to make sense of all the data that speaks to your focus, and this may well involve revising your hypothesis or way of understanding that issue. 


Locating sources.  Once you’re fairly clear on your focus, consider relevant literature in the field.  The purpose of using readings is to provide an interpretive context for understanding your field research.  You may rely on the readings we’ve shared in class and/or pursue outside sources that illuminate your question/focus.  You may also consider your own experiences prior to this field experience as part of the context you bring to understanding your site.


Drafting your paper.  You should introduce your site, giving relevant contextual information.  Then lay out the focus/question your paper will explore. Include a brief review of relevant literature and/or other experiences that set the context for your particular field focus.  The bulk of the paper should address the field experience itself through the lens of your question/focus. You may organize your paper in terms of:

  • a theme (e.g. in Ladson-Billings’ article, “permission to fail” acts as a lens for understanding what makes a classroom successful or not);
  • a “case study” in which you focus on a student or even a small group of children (e.g. Strolin-Smith’s focus on her student, Tekwan);
  • a vignette that contains key issues to the setting and your focus (Monkman et. al’s article is organized around a single vignette).


Regardless of how you organize the paper, you should include both notes from the field (direct quotes from your field log and any other sources are especially rich and helpful) and interpretive commentary framing your notes from the field.  This is a descriptive paper in which you are using your field experience to posit what you have learned about urban teaching, learning, challenges and so forth.


Your paper should be clearly written and follow formal guidelines in terms of grammar, syntax and citations.  You may include appendices as needed.  Remember to use pseudonyms to protect confidentiality for institutions and individuals.


Please post your field paper using the PRIVATE option on serendip, to be included in your final portfolio by:


Seniors: Sat. May 9 @ 5 pm

Everyone else:  Fri. May 15  @ 12:30 pm