Madison City Schools is providing more opportunities for students to develop and use critical thinking skills. The new courses of AP Seminar and AP Research, encourage students to think independently, analyze issues from different perspectives and conduct independent research. These two courses form the backbone of the AP Capstone Diploma program offered through The College Board.
“AP Seminar provides sustained practice of investigating issues from multiple perspectives and cultivates student writing abilities so they can craft, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. Students are empowered to collect and analyze information with accuracy and precision and are assessed through a team project and presentation, an individual written essay and presentation, and a written exam.”
“In AP Research, students develop the skills and discipline necessary to conduct independent research to produce and defend a scholarly academic thesis. This second course in the AP Capstone experience allows students to explore deeply an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest and through this inquiry, students design, plan, and conduct a year-long mentored, research-based investigation. The course culminates in an academic thesis paper of approximately 5,000 words and a presentation, performance, or exhibition with an oral defense.”
If a student completes these two courses and earns a 3 or higher on the end of course assessment, the student will qualify for the AP Seminar and Research Certification. To be awarded the AP Capstone distinction, a student would need to achieve the AP Seminar and Research Certification and also earn a 3 or higher on four other AP Exams of their choosing.
Both Madison City High Schools offer AP Seminar and AP Research. They are open to any grade level student. Bob Jones holds both courses as traditional semester block classes, whereas James Clemens offers both classes in the blended format. In the blended course, James Clemens students meet periodically during the Refuel hour and then supplement that time through online assignments done at home.
In AP Seminar, teachers guide students as they engage in conversations about complex academic and real-world issues. Students learn how to look at a topic through a variety of lenses which will help them develop creative and critical thinking skills allowing them to make connections across a myriad of disciplines. Students are tasked with learning to work in groups and developing solutions to real-world issues they identify.
The second course, AP Research, asks students to use the critical thinking skills learned in AP Seminar and apply them through the research process. Students do not need to have any experience with research, but most have completed AP Seminar. Teachers will guide students as they question, collect, synthesize and analyze data. Often the students will be paired with a mentor from the community to provide technical guidance. The course culminates with students documenting their original research in a scholarly document of 4,000 to 5,000 words. Students will also present their research to a panel. This course demands that students engage in original research, and students may not use any research that was conducted prior to the beginning of the course.
AP Capstone is a wonderful opportunity for independent research, collaborative peer interactions, communication within school and throughout the community, and an incredible means to grow creative and critical thinking skills.
I invite you to watch this video created by Daniel Whitt and intern Abby Hancock as an introduction to the AP Capstone program. You will hear some students describe their current work and some students will share experiences from previous research. (Which they will not be using for their current AP Research submission.)