BIDWELL — A group of River Valley High School seniors will soon be sharing advanced placement research projects that they have been working on for the better part of two years.
According to RVHS teachers Aaron Walker and Kaleigh Cox, juniors and seniors are engaging in a first-time set of classes introduced to the high school looking to teach students advanced research and analysis skills. Eleven students are in their advanced placement respective junior and senior classes to make a total of 22 students. The classes have utilized internal review boards to approve project proposals. Students have also utilized community mentors in their projects. The seniors of 2020 will be the first students to complete the pair of classes.
“It’s the first year we’ve ever done it and they’ve done really well with it,” said Walker. “It’s essentially a two-year course. These students I had last year and that class was all research skills and writing skills in preparation for this year and that’s where I partnered with it. Now, they’re all seniors.”
Students were allowed to pick any topic of their choosing and spend the year conducting original research for their subject. Students collected their own data and aim to submit a paper ranging between 20 to 30 pages. They will also be giving online presentations to teachers for their topics.
“It’s a hefty academic load they’ve been carrying,” said Walker. “The topics are interesting and varied.”
“They first take AP seminar with Aaron and with that they learn the basics of different rhetorical strategies and argumentation,” said Cox. “They take all of that and transfer that into their yearlong project their senior year. As an AP teacher, I’m really hands-off. Everything they’ve written and present was entirely their work. I just teach skills.”
Cox continued to say that the seminar class consists of students finding articles and summarizing their arguments to provide background to strengthen a student’s argument. The senior class seeks to look at gaps in research that are missing or haven’t been addressed surrounding an issue. Students then develop their own study to fill those said gaps.
Cox said that one student in the course had worked to create an esports team to study the development of soft skills in an environment differing from traditional high school athletics. Another student interviewed a man falsely convicted of a crime and the story surrounding the circumstances of his conviction.
“These projects are about how our students can add to the conversations of their study,” said Cox.
Dean Wright is a staff writer with Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342.
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