TEXAS PERFORMANCE STANDARDS PROJECT
WHAT IS THE TPSP?
The TPSP is a RESEARCH PROJECT that is designed for you to explore and discover something about the world around you. You may do this research by yourself or with another person. Once you decide what to investigate, you will use research tools to gather information about your subject and present your findings. In the end, you will give a presentation or a performance as well as create a product. This paper will help you understand the research tools at your disposal as well as provide you with some ideas for your project.
What are the different RESEARCH TYPES AND TOOLS? In the following sections we will explore the types of research that you can do as well as the tools you have at your disposal to do your work.
By definition, a traditional research involves finding information about your subject which has already been published in some form. By looking up as much information as possible from a variety of sources, you become an expert on the subject to where you can teach others about it.
TOOLS OF TRADITIONAL RESEARCH
- Textbooks and Subject Books- Books present a multitude of topics. Because of the time it takes to publish books, they usually contain more dated information than will be found in journals and newspapers. You can find books through the Library Catalog by: author, title, subject area.
- Newspapers- Predominately covering the latest events and trends, newspapers contain very up-to-date information. Newspapers report both information that is factual in nature and also share opinions. Generally, however, they will not take a “big picture” approach or contain information about larger trends. You can search for newspapers through their individual websites or by buying a paper copy.
- Academic and trade journals- This is where you can go to find the most up-to-date information and research in industry, business, and academia. Journal articles come in several forms, including literature reviews that overview current and past research, articles on theories and history, or articles on specific processes or research. You can find articles online through a search engine called “Article Plus”. You can use the magazine or journal name, article title, author, or subject.
- Government Reports and Legal Documents- The government releases information intended for its own use or for public use. These types of documents can be an excellent source of information. Examples of a government report are the U.S. Census data and Unemployment Figures. Most government reports and legal documents can now be accessed online.
- Press Releases and Advertisements- Companies and special interest groups produce texts to help persuade readers to act in some way or inform the public about some new development. You can find press releases at the source (such as a government agency, city hall, or a company).
- Flyers, Pamphlets, and Leaflets- While some flyers or pamphlets are created by reputable sources, because of the ease in which they are created, many less-than-reputable sources also produce these. They are useful for quick reference or very general information. Some pamphlets may be collected by libraries, especially the Library of Congress, so you may search the library catalog to locate them.
- Multimedia- Printed material is certainly not the only option for finding research. Also consider media sources such as radio and television broadcasts, interactive talks, and public meetings. Other media include videos, films, CDs, tapes, and records.
TRADITIONAL RESEARCH THAT USES INTERNET ONLY SOURCES
- Websites-Most of the information on the Internet is distributed via Web sites. Web sites vary widely in quality of information and validity of sources
- Weblogs or blogs- This is a type of interactive journal where writers post and readers respond. They vary widely in quality of information and validity of sources. For example, many prestigious journalists and public figures may have blogs, which may be more credible of a blog than most.
- Message boards, Discussion lists, and Chat rooms- These sources exist for all kinds of disciplines both in and outside of the university. However, plenty of boards exist that are rather unhelpful and poorly researched.
- Multimedia- The Internet has a multitude of multimedia resources including online broadcasts and news, images, audio files, and interactive Web sites.
There are specific types of actitivies that need to use the primary research approach. You are going to use primary research if you're going to:
- investigate a local problem that may not have been addressed before and there is little research to back it up.
- write about a specific group of people or a specific person.
- look into a topic that is relatively new or original and few publications exist on the subject.
You can also use primary research to confirm or dispute national results with local trends.
What types of primary research can be done?
Many types of primary research exist. This guide is designed to provide you with an overview of primary research.
- Interviews are one-on-one or small group question and answer sessions. Interviews will provide a lot of information from a small number of people and are useful when you want to get an expert or knowledgeable opinion on a subject.
- Surveys are a form of questioning that is more rigid than interviews and that involve larger groups of people. Surveys will provide a limited amount of information from a large group of people and are useful when you want to learn what a larger population thinks about a specific, well-defined subject.
- Observations involve taking organized notes about occurrences in the world. Observations provide you with insight about specific people, events, or locales and are useful when you want to learn more about an event without the biased viewpoint of an interview.
- Analysis involves collecting data and organizing it in some fashion based on criteria you develop. They are useful when you want to find some trend or pattern. A type of analysis would be to record commercials on three major television networks and analyze gender roles.
SO WHERE DO I START?
Consider the following questions when trying to decide what to do for your project:
- What type of research do I want to do: traditional or primary?
- What do I want to discover?
- How do I plan on discovering it? (This is called your research methods or methodology)
- Who am I going to talk to/observe/survey? (These people are called your subjects or participants)
- How am I going to be able gain access to these groups or individuals?
- What are my biases about this topic? (What do I already think about it?)
- How can I make sure my biases are not reflected in my research methods?
- What do I expect to discover?