The Freedom to Research

Meghan Santerelli

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As a Junior at Cranford High School, each student has the opportunity to find an internship in the community and explore a field of work. Last year I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to intern at Hillside Avenue School with a class of first graders with special needs. This experience was extremely eye opening to me and helped shape the job I wish to pursue in the future. In taking this internship, it is required of these students to participate in one of two classes their senior year. University Action Research, or University Academic Research. In both of these classes students complete a year long research project on a topic of their choice.

The main difference between these two classes is the data that the students will be using to support their ultimate conclusions. In University Action Research, the student’s project will be supported by data they create. This data can be created through interviews, surveys, observations, and focus groups that are conducted in the community. With this, the students will code their data and answer their research questions, writing a 12-20 paged paper, along with a fifteen minute presentation. While in the University Academic Research class, students find data that already exists. This data can be from books found in the library or online. Their conclusions are organized in a 25-40 paged paper along with a 10-15 minute presentation. Both of these classes offer students the opportunity to investigate topics of their choice and interest, while also preparing them for a college level research course.

The seniors who are graduating this year have begun to present their research projects and their ultimate conclusions. Some of the topics that are being presented under the University Action Research course include: Adults with Special Needs in the Workforce, Cell Phone Use in CHS, Mental Blocks in Gymnasts,  and the Relative Age Effect. In University Academic Research, some of the topics that are being presented include: The Effects of Medicating for ADHD, America’s Incarceration System, and Alternative Methods to Rehabilitation. These presentations showcase the hard work and dedication of the seniors who took these two research courses. Students can attend these presentations by invitation from the presenter or permission from the teacher.

Having taken a Junior Internship and the University Action Research course, I would strongly recommend for underclassmen to look into these options. Not only did my internship help pave a path for my future, but this project gave me insight on a topic that is very important to me. The opportunity for freedom in class to develop and create a project is a very valuable skill to practice before heading off to college in the fall, and I believe more students at CHS should take advantage of this.