AP Research (11th or 12th Grade)

The second year of the AP Capstone program allows students to put the skills acquired in AP Seminar to practice in a Capstone Research Project. This independent study, executed under the mentorship of a teacher, culminates in a 4,000-5,000 word (roughly 20 pages) paper whereby the student defends and articulates their position on their chosen subject followed by an presentation and oral defense of their research paper. 

AP Research allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, issue, or idea of individual interest.  Students design, plan, and implement a yearlong investigation to address a research question.  Through this inquiry, they further the skills they acquired in the AP Seminar course by learning research methodology, employing ethical research practices, and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information.  Students reflect on their skill development, document their processes, and curate the artifacts of their scholarly work through a process and reflection portfolio (PREP).  The course culminates in an academic paper of 4,000-5,000 words (accompanied by a performance, exhibit, or product where applicable) and a presentation with an oral defense.

AP Research is not tied to a specific content area, rather it emphasizes and strives for competency in core academic skills.  Students gain Essential Knowledge and develop and apply discrete skills identified in the Learning Objectives of the Enduring Understandings within the five big ideas represented by the acronym QUEST introduced in the prerequisite AP Seminar course:

  • Question and Explore: Read critically; pose questions and identify issues that compel you to want to explore further.
  • Understand and Analyze: Use specific tools – such as re-reading, questioning in the text, and considering multiple perspectives – to break down an idea or argument into parts that make sense to you.
  • Evaluate Multiple Perspectives: Identify a variety of perspectives, viewpoints, and/or arguments of an issue and consider any bias to determine the validity of that point of view.
  • Synthesize Ideas: Create new perspectives after evaluating other varying perspectives and establishing a unique position or claim using a variety of resources designed for a specific audience.
  • Team, Transform, and Transmit: Communicate the message clearly and effectively so as to transform both participants and audience.

AP Research Performance Task

While the topic of each research study will vary, the course requires students to plan and conduct a study or investigation.  The course provides opportunities (activities/assignments) for students to understand principles of discipline-specific research methods (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, mixed) to develop, manage, and conduct an in-depth study or investigation in an area of student’s own interest in order to fill a gap in the current field of knowledge.  The final output of these efforts includes:

  • A 4,000-5,000 word Academic Paper (75% of the AP Score) that includes several components as follows:
    • Introduction: This section introduces and contextualizes the research question and initial student assumptions and/or hypotheses.  Additionally it reviews the previous work in the field to synthesize information and a range of perspectives related to the research question (e.g. literature review) to allow for the student to identify the gap in the current field of knowledge to be addressed.
    • Method, Process, or Approach: This section explains and provides justification for the chosen method, process, or approach.
    • Results, Products, or Findings: This section presents the findings, evidence, results, or product from the student’s work.
    • Discussion, Analysis, and/or Evaluation: This section interprets the significance of the findings, results, or product and explores connections to the original research question while discussing the implications and limitations of the research or creative work.
    • Conclusion and Future Directions: This section reflects on the process and how this project could impact the field while discussing the possible next steps and/or future directions.
    • Bibliography: This section provides a complete list of sources cited and consulted in the appropriate disciplinary style.

A 15-20 minute Presentation and Oral Defense (25% of the AP Score): This presentation may be accomplished in a variety of formats, so long as it reflects the depth of the student’s research.  Prior to this performance, the students whose academic paper was accompanied by an additional piece of scholarly work (e.g. performance, exhibit, etc.) will arrange for the teacher and panelists to view the scholarly work.  The defense will include three questions from a panel consisting of the AP Research Teacher and two additional members chosen by the AP Research Teacher.

AP Research Credit

AP Research is offered for a weighted elective credit at South.

Comments are closed.