Spring 2018 Syllabus: EDU 250/ EDRD 750

EDU 250 (4 undergraduate credits)/ EDRD 750 (3 graduate credits)

Scholarly Reading and Writing in Education

Instructor                 P. L. Thomas, EdD

Office                         Hipp Hall 101 F

Phone                         864.294.3386

E-mail                         paul.thomas@furman.edu

Class Room               Hipp Hall 104

Time                           5:45-8:30



Nash, R. J. (2004). Liberating scholarly writing: The power of personal narrative. New York: Teachers College Press.

Bracey, G. (2006). Reading educational research: How to avoid getting statistically snookered. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace, 12th Edition, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup

Smallwood, C, ed. (2006). Educators as writers: Publishing for personal and professional development. New York: Peter Lang.

Me-Search and Re-Search: A Guide for Writing Scholarly Personal Narrative Manuscripts, Robert Nash and‎ DeMethra LaSha Bradley

Course Description

[Undergraduate] For students interested in education as well as understanding how to read, interpret, and present research, this course invites students to investigate educational research and how that research is typically explained in the popular media. Students will analyze how well or not research is presented to the public through a formal and drafted cited essay and a related public piece. Course will carry WR and TA credit.

[Graduate] With demands higher than ever for K-12 educators to be scholars and leaders, this course offers workshop opportunities for literacy educators to expand and refine their literacy skills as consumers of educational research and as writers of scholarly works. Candidates in this course will read and analyze a wide range of scholarly works, both qualitative and quantitative, while also drafting their own original scholarly writing to submit for publication.

Undergraduate Assignments

  • Students will read and respond through eJournals to all required texts and supplemental readings.
  • Students will select a major issue in education (word gap, charter schools, school choice, teacher evaluation/value-added methods, standards and high-stakes testing, etc.) and prepare 8-10 annotated bibliographies in APA format identifying significant research on the issue.
  • Students will conduct a research project in which they critically analyze how the above chosen issue is presented in the mainstream media, and write in a workshop format (multiple drafts, conferencing) an 8-10 page essay using APA format detailing how well or not the media has presented the research.
  • Students will write a 750-1000 word public commentary that summarizes the above research project; these public pieces will be published in a course blog, using hyperlinks to cite. See as examples HERE.

 Graduate Assignments

  • Candidates will be required to read assigned texts and prepare eJournalsto that reading before scheduled discussions of those topics in class. An e-journal should be emailed to the professor before each class session with the candidate’s response in the body of the email. Additional reading and responses may be required throughout the course.
  • Candidates will identify a current issue in education that is misunderstood by the public and then draft a public commentary (750-1250 words) with hyperlinks to research/evidence to clarify the topic. See as examples HERE.
  • Candidates will be placed in groups. Each group will be asked to select and to evaluate a major research publication—a published book, a dissertation, several issues of a research-based journal, or some other publication approved by the professor. Each group will present on their evaluation in a 15-minute presentation; this presentation should be accompanied by appropriate technology support and adequate materials for the rest of the class.
  • In a workshop setting, each candidate will draft an original essay to be submitted to a scholarly journal at the completion of the course. This assignment must include drafting during class meetings, self- and peer editing in workshop settings, sharing drafts with the professor, researching potential journals for submission, and submitting the work to the professor in the format required in that professional submission.


Assignments and expectations listed above have not been labeled with weights or percentages.  The work students complete in this course will be assessed cumulatively and holistically; individual assignments will not be weighted and averaged, as is traditionally practiced.  All work may be revised as desired by the student, as agreed upon by the professor, and as term time limits allow.

Work and commitments to this course should be of the highest academic and professional quality.  Late or incomplete work will be addressed at the end of the course—not on individual grades for individual assignments.  Further, individual grades for group work will reflect both the effort of each individual in the group and the ultimate quality of the group assignment.

Furman University, the Education Department, and the professor are strongly committed to students performing as scholars while in all their courses.  Such a commitment means that we expect the highest standards in written and oral performances—including a student’s understanding and application of academic honesty and scholarly documentation of all work.  In this course, students will be expected to follow American Psychological Association (APA; 6th ed.) guidelines.  Help for writing, presenting, and documentation will be provided by the professor and additional documenting help may be found at either of the following—


All grading and evaluation procedures for this course may be discussed more fully by contacting the professor for a face-to-face explanation—though much of this will be covered as a natural part of the course content as well.

All grading policies of Furman University and Graduate Studies are in effect.

Course Topics:

Research paradigms and terminology (quantitative/qualitative spectrum), including:

  • understanding data and how it is used-and misused
  • uncovering how variables are used in the construction of scientifically based research-and manipulated in politically motivated research
  • drawing conclusions about a study and deciding whether the data presented is meaningful
  • assessing the data that comes from standardized testing.

Modes and genres of writing and writing about research (focusing on Scholarly Personal Narrative), including

  • alternatives to the more conventional modes of qualitative and quantitative inquiry currently used in professional training programs, particularly in education.
  • SPN application, rationale, critique, and inspiration in the context of traditional modes of written research.
  • how to use personal writing in order to analyze, explicate, and advance their ideas.
  • writing with SPN.
  • how minority students, women, and others find and express their authentic voices by using their own lives as primary resources for their scholarship.

Searching for, selecting, and analyzing educational research as well as media representations of educational research, including:

  • distinguishing between university-based and think-tank research and reports.
  • unpacking the tension between scholarship and public messaging about complex issues and research findings.
  • confronting political bias and agendas embedded in research and media reporting on research.

Policy Statement Regarding Late Assignments and Academic Honesty

Late Assignments

Each assignment is to be completed and turned in during the class session on the date that it is due. To insure late work will be accepted: At least one day prior to original due date speak to the professor to get permission for a later due date and set the day and time it will be turned in. If you are away from campus on an official college event (this includes athletes), it is your responsibility to turn in your assignment early or send it with a classmate the day it is due in order to receive full credit.

Academic Honesty

The Education Department believes that academic honesty is a serious concern. Acts of dishonesty include (but are not limited to) cheating, plagiarism, forgery, and misrepresenting commitments. Plagiarism, defined in the pamphlet Plagiarism and Academic Integrity at Furman University, is the “unacknowledged use of someone else’s work is in effect an attempt to deceive one’s reader into thinking it is one’s own work.” This includes using parts of commercially-prepared units of instruction instead of your own. Academic dishonesty includes handing in the same student product (paper, unit, lesson plan) for credit in two different classes without the approval of both instructors. Such acts will be grounds for appropriate disciplinary action and will be dealt with individually. They can result in an automatic “F” in the course and/or expulsion from the program. The policy is consistent with the College Academic Regulations in the Bulletin.


In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Furman University provides a range of services to allow persons with special needs (including learning disabilities such as ADHD) to participate in education programs. You must contact the Coordinator for Disability Services, Dr. Susan Clark, before the course instructor can address your individual needs. She can be reached at 294-2322.