My students turned in some great research proposals last Friday.  I’m spending today reading and grading them with the hopes of returning them tomorrow.  The research proposal is a challenging assignment because it asks students to do foundational research but not thorough investigation.  For this paper they should make a case for their topics, not take particular stances on any issues.  That comes later.  My students struggled with the assignment over the last two weeks:  write a research paper that doesn’t argue anything?  Well, you are arguing something, I’d answer, but you’re arguing for your project, not for a position (yet).  They also really struggled with the idea that I would either accept or reject their projects, which for them means all their preliminary research would have been done in vain.

I’m happy to say that many of them succeeded in at least grabbing my attention.  Like any boastful parent who tells his friends about the good work his children have done, I’m going to brag a little about my students’ work by listing some of the most interesting titles among the lot:

“Adult Ideas, Young Readers:  Race in Children’s Literature” – Elizabeth Rowny

“Choice vs. Argument:  Is My Choice Really My Choice?” – Julio Jimenez

“Abandoned Pets From Hurricane Katrina” – Maral Sivaslian

“Poverty and Native American Culture” – Kitty Morrill

“The Role of the Disney Princess” – Helen Garcia-Alton

“Research Proposal:  Physical Appearance Discrimination” – Julio Murrillo

“How Violence in Media Affects Teenagers” – Jose Tejero

“Disaster Readiness:  Are We Prepared?” – Brandon Doan

“Celebrities and their Impact on Teens” – Johnny Dubbaneh

“Can Music and Lyrics Corrupt Children or Help Them?” – Frannie Gold

“Front and Center:  The Rightful Place of Black Women in History” – Faiza Massah

We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a paper by its title, but one of the elements of effective writing is hooking readers with a strong title.  For me, these titles are worth celebrating.  The titles intrigue me so much that I am looking forward to poring over the actual papers.  This is where my job becomes pleasurable:  grading isn’t always fun but reading and witnessing the shaping of ideas is!  Here’s hoping the titles live up to my expectations.


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