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Potential Research Topics: EDUCATION

This guide will help with settling on a research topic for class.


EDUCATION: West Virginia Teacher Strike
Pay is the core issue of a strike by public school teachers across West Virginia who are
demanding a meeting with Gov. Jim Justice. What is the pay structure for public school teachers in
the most recent West Virginia budget and what financial issues drove this decision? What are the
functions of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and
what has been their role in this strike?
SEARCH TERMS: West Virginia AND teacher* AND strike

EDUCATION: Great Britain -Rhodes Scholars Expanded
The Rhodes Trust has announced that Rhodes Scholarships to study at Oxford University
will now accept candidates from everywhere in the world, including Great Britain. The trust has
been expanding where students can come from over the years. It has also been soliciting funds
from philanthropists. When British imperialist Cecil Rhodes set up the trust and the scholarships, to
which countries did he limit them? How have the scholarships been expanded over time?
SEARCH TERMS: Rhodes Scholarships

EDUCATION: Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow Closes
TOPIC: Ohio’s largest virtual school called The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow has been
closed. What were the reasons for its closing and how is the state of Ohio involved in it? What was
the promise of the school at its inception and how and why did it fall short of those goals?
SEARCH TERMS: Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow AND Ohio

EDUCATION: Big Plans for Girls Education
Malala Yousafzai and Tim Cook announced a partnership between the Malala Fund and
Apple to work to get 100,000 girls into secondary schools around the world. How do they hope to
achieve this? What role do they see for the governments of the countries that they want to work in?
What countries do they hope to begin in? What are the challenges at hand for getting girls
schooled in the countries the partnership is targeting?
SEARCH TERMS: Malala Fund AND Apple AND girls and education

EDUCATION: Colleges Suspend Fraternities
Ohio State University and Indiana University have both suspended their fraternities. What
were the reasons each of these schools made this decision? What is the purpose of fraternities,
how did they start, and how did they evolve over time?
SEARCH TERMS: (Ohio State OR Indiana University) AND fraternities

EDUCATION: Foreign Students
There has been a decline in the number of international students choosing to attend
colleges or universities in the U.S. It is thought that recent political events in this country have
contributed to this decline. How great is this decline and how does it impact affected institutions?
What political events could be influencing students? What countries might benefit from this trend?
SEARCH TERMS: (United States OR U.S.) AND (colleges OR universities) AND (Foreign students
OR international students)

EDUCATION: Chicago School Budget
The Chicago Board of Education has approved a $5.75 billion budget. How much of this
is earmarked for debts, how much of it is uncertain and what is the rest of the budget to be spent
on? What fiscal problems have the Chicago schools had and why?
SEARCH TERMS: (Chicago Board of Education OR Chicago School Board) AND budget

EDUCATION: College Admissions Data
More women than men expect to attend college in the United Kingdom, a University
Admissions Service data reveals. Over 37% of 18-year-old women expect to go, as compared to
only 27% of similarly aged men. How many women have won places in colleges for the upcoming
term and how many men? What could be the reason for this disparity? Why is this finding
SEARCH TERMS: United Kingdom AND college attendance

EDUCATION: Florida Education Law  
TOPIC:  Florida has passed a law that will steer more state money toward charter schools as well as change the state’s standardized testing system.  Why is the funding of charter schools causing controversy among the public and why is it being done?  How is the standardized testing system changing and why?
SEARCH TERMS: Florida AND (law OR legislat*) AND (education OR schools) AND (charter OR test*)

EDUCATION: A Curriculum Decision  
TOPIC:  Turkey is putting in place a new national curriculum and one of the topics that will no longer be taught in secondary schools is evolution. The government claims it is protecting students from controversial topics that they lack the scientific knowledge to fully understand. Critics point out that the only other country to ban evolution is Saudi Arabia. How does this decision fit in with the ruling party’s Islamist ideology? Who is protesting against this decision?
SEARCH TERMS: Turkey AND evolution AND curriculum

The percentage of students passing their Advanced Placement (AP) exams is growing in
the United States. How are the test results being measured and what are the reasons given for the
improved scores? Which states are leading in AP test score improvements and why?
SEARCH TERMS: Advanced Placement AND score* AND (growth OR improve*)

Businesswoman and education activist Betsy DeVos is President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education. What is her previous work experience in the public education system? What are her educational policies and what is her reasoning to support them? What has been her background as an education activist and what has she achieved?
SEARCH TERMS: Betsy DeVos AND educat*

EDUCATION: Chicago Public Schools Bond Sale
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is selling $500 million in bonds to pay off their debts. How
did this plan come about and what are the benefits and concerns about it? How does Wall Street
view this plan and why? How did they get so deeply in debt in the first place?
SEARCH TERMS: Chicago Public Schools AND bonds AND debt

EDUCATION: Student around the World Ranked
The Programme for International Student Assessment figures for 2015 were released,
allowing countries around the world to assess how their 15-year-old students compare to one
another. Students were tested on science, reading and mathematics. Which country came in
number one? Which country had the most gains in the listing?
SEARCH TERMS: Programme for International Student Assessment OR PISA

EDUCATION: School Strikes
: Chicago teachers’ union reached a deal with the city of Chicago that narrowly prevented a
massive strike. In Pennsylvania, a deal has been struck between Pennsylvania’s State System of
Higher Education and a faculty union that ended a 3-day strike at 14 Pennsylvania colleges. What
were the issues in each case and how were they resolved through negotiation? How do each of
these unions operate and what is their function within the education system?
SEARCH TERMS: (Chicago OR Pennsylvania) AND teacher* AND strike

EDUCATION: Racial Protests at Colleges  
TOPIC:  The slow response by the University of Missouri Chancellor Bowen Loftin and school president Timothy Wolfe to a series of campus racial incidents ended with both of them resigning.  What kind of racial incidents happened on this campus and what has been the student reaction?  What shows of support have other colleges given to the racial protests there, and what other schools have been the most active?  What are some examples of racial incidents at other college campuses that have incited strong protests?
SEARCH TERMS: (University of Missouri OR Mizzou) AND rac* AND protest*

EDUCATION: MIT’s Online Course  
TOPIC:  The free online Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) courses are now charging a small fee but offering credits that can work toward a degree.  How does this credit system work and what are the fees?  What courses are being offered toward what degrees?
SEARCH TERMS: MIT AND online AND (degree OR credit* OR credential)

EDUCATION: Veil Banning  
TOPIC: Cairo University has banned female teachers from wearing the full face veil (niqab) while teaching in order to improve communication between teachers and students. Rather than the niqab, they may wear a veil that covers their hair but not their face. What happened when they tried to ban the niqab completely from the entire university? Why do they think this time it will be different? In what classes do students particularly need to see and hear their teachers?
SEARCH TERMS: Cairo University AND niqab

EDUCATION: Best Cities for Students Ranked  
TOPIC:  Paris has been named the best city for students, based on a combination of quality and number of universities, size of the city, affordability and lifestyle factors, by the education data firm QS.  It was followed by Melbourne, Tokyo, Sydney and London.  What other cities round out the top ten?  Why has London gone down a position in each of the last two years?  Where is the first U.S. city on the rankings?
SEARCH TERMS: cities AND “student life” AND rankings

EDUCATION: Student Fee Protests     
TOPIC:  Last fall’s demonstrations in South Africa against an increase in university student fees led to an announcement by President Zuma that fees will be frozen for 2016 and the setting up of a panel to look into the idea of free university education for all.  Minister of Education Blade Nzimande announced a new model of student aid would begin in 2017.  What caused these protests?  What beyond fee increases were students demonstrating about?  How did people outside the education sphere view the protests?
SEARCH TERMS: South Africa AND fees AND students AND (demonstrations OR protests)

TOPIC:  The last test using the old Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs) is taking place and the new version will be in use from now on.  What are the differences between the two versions and why was the test changed?  What has been the reaction from the education field and from the public regarding these changes?
SEARCH TERMS: (SAT OR Scholastic Aptitude Test) AND new

EDUCATION: Florida Standards Assessment
TOPIC:  A study done by a company called Alpine Testing Solutions has found that the controversial Florida Standards Assessment test is a valid way to measure a student’s performance against the state standards.  What have been the concerns that caused the state to order this study? What test did the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) replace and how do the two tests differ?   
SEARCH TERMS: Florida Standards Assessment AND Alpine Testing Solutions

EDUCATION: Every Child Succeeds    
TOPIC:  President Obama has signed into law a replacement for the troubled No Child Left Behind Act called The Every Child Succeeds Act.  What does the new act do to fix issues with the previous ones?  What are the overall goals of the new act and how does it work to meet them?
SEARCH TERMS: Every Child Succeeds

EDUCATION: Cecil Rhodes Statue
TOPIC:  Oxford’s Oriel College has been the scene of protests asking the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes, who founded the Rhodes Scholarships, was a colonialist in Africa in the late 1800s. Do you agree that the statue should be moved because of modern sensibilities towards Rhodes’ actions in the past? Should there be a time limit on how far back such public accounting for attitudes show go? Does Rhodes’ contributions to education now outweigh his imperial ambitions?
SEARCH TERMS: Oriel College AND Cecil Rhodes

EDUCATION: The Language of Computers     
TOPIC:  The Florida state senate has endorsed requiring computer coding as a language requirement in the state education system.  What are the differences and similarities between Florida’s legislation and the specifics of Chicago’s recent decision to make computer science mandatory in its public schools? What is different between computer coding and language as we traditionally think of it and what are the similarities?  What are some of the ways a knowledge of computer coding can help adults other than just working in the field?
SEARCH TERMS: language AND computer AND Florida AND (code OR coding)

EDUCATION: Nearly 50% of Children in Pakistan Do Not Attend School
TOPIC:  In a bleak report, the Pakistani government reported that 24 million children living in Pakistan from the ages of 5 to 16 years old do not go to school. The number of unschooled children is just about even between boys and girls. Most the children surveyed who were not in school dropped out of school by the fifth year. Why are so many children in Pakistan not being schooled? What factors affected children not receiving a primary education? What has been the response to such alarming statistics?
SEARCH TERMS: Pakistan AND school

EDUCATION: Award Winning Teacher
TOPIC: Hanan Hroub, a teacher from the West Bank, has won the Global Teacher Prize from the Varkey Foundation. Why did the Varkey Foundation choose Hroub? What does she teach and what are the ages of her students? What are her teaching methods?

TOPIC: In a bold multiyear initiative, the Harvard Graduate School of Education has launched a new endeavor to eliminate the link between children’s socioeconomic status and educational achievement. Acknowledging that public schools cannot do the job of educating all students for success, educators, superintendents and mayors from six cities will work together in rethinking how child wellbeing and equity can be better fostered within the education system.
SEARCH TERMS: ‘By All Means’ AND Harvard

EDUCATION: Scripps National Spelling Bee   
TOPIC:  For the third time in a row the Scripps Nation Spelling Bee has ended in a tie when Nihar Saireddy Janga and Jairam Hathwar were both declared winners. What were some of the most difficult words presented this year?  When did the Scripps National Spelling Bee start and how has it changed over the years?
SEARCH TERMS: Scripps National Spelling Bee AND Janga AND Hathwar

EDUCATION: Note Taking on Devices   
TOPIC:  A group of economists have conducted a study at the West Point Naval Academy by prohibiting one group of students from taking notes on technical devices like laptops and tablets and allowing another group to use them.  What was the result of the study and why?  What did a similar 2003 study in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education find?
SEARCH TERMS: (laptops OR tablets) AND West Point AND notes AND study

EDUCATION: Shoes in the Classroom  
TOPIC:   A 10-year study has shown that children do better in the classroom if they have left their shoes outside. They are quieter and read more. What about the lack of shoes contributes to these outcomes? Where is this shoelessness a common occurrence? Who led the study and what prompted this investigation?
SEARCH TERMS: classrooms AND (barefoot or shoeless)

EDUCATION: Vocational Education
TOPIC: Vocational education is becoming more popular in public high schools and many students want to graduate with job skills if college turns out to be out of reach. What are some states that are looking at increasing career pathways into the curriculum of the public high school system? What are states doing to increase vocational school options?
SEARCH TERMS: vocational AND (school OR schools OR education)

EDUCATION: Dress Tips from a Politician
TOPIC: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has expressed support for banning the Muslim headscarf from universities. What were the arguments in favor of the ban? What are the arguments against it? What are the chances of the ban happening? In what other areas has France regulated religious dress?
SEARCH TERMS: France AND Muslims AND headscarves

EDUCATION: Affirmative Action in School Admissions
TOPIC: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld an aspect of the admissions policy for the University
of Texas at Austin that takes race into account when making its decisions. How is race considered
in their admissions policy and on what grounds did the Supreme Court find it constitutional? What
is the history of racial consideration in college admissions in the U.S.?
SEARCH TERMS: Supreme Court AND University of Texas AND (affirmative action OR race OR
racial) AND admissions

EDUCATION: Student Protests, Then and Now
TOPIC: South Africa commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Soweto uprising, student-led
protests against the increasing use of Afrikaans in schools that focused attention around the world
on apartheid. At the same time, present day students in South Africa are protesting again. What
are they protesting about? How do their protests differ from the ones in 1976?
SEARCH TERMS: South Africa AND students AND (Soweto uprising OR protests)

EDUCATION: San Diego Charter Schools
TOPIC: Several school districts in San Diego have filed lawsuits to prevent charter schools from opening within their boundaries. What are charter schools and how do they differ from public schools? What are the benefits and concerns about the educational value of these schools and why are the public schools worried about them opening within their boundaries?
SEARCH TERMS: San Diego AND charter schools

EDUCATION: Teachers’ Strike
TOPIC: Unionized teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, have been demonstrating against the educational reforms enacted this past spring. They say the reforms are meant to enable the government to seize control of the schools. Their opponents say teacher control of schools has not led to better pupil outcomes. Whose arguments make more sense? What is the largest sticking point for the teachers? What has been the economic impact of this action?
SEARCH TERMS: Oaxaca AND teachers

EDUCATION: For-Profit VS Non-profit Colleges
TOPIC: The Center for Excellence in Higher Education, a charity promoting free-market principles in the field of higher education, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education claiming that the DOE is trying to put colleges out of business. By not allowing the for-profit colleges to be re-classified as non-profit educational institutions, these colleges do not have access to federal financial aid funding. How are consumer and education advocates responding to this lawsuit? Why is student debt one of the driving factors in this lawsuit? As many have been vocal about questioning the astronomical cost of higher education in the United States, how can fair access to higher education be better managed?
SEARCH TERMS: Center for Excellence in Higher Education AND Department of Education

EDUCATION: School Shooting
TOPIC: Two armed gunmen attacked the American University of Afghanistan, killing several students, some professors and support staff before they, in turn, were killed by Afghan troops and police. What role was it hoped that the university would play in Afghan life? Has any group claimed responsibility for this attack? Has the school reopened?
SEARCH TERMS: American University of Afghanistan