Overview. The overall goal is to present information about an important topic in adolescent development. A list of acceptable topics is provided below. If you would like to propose another topic, consult with your instructor. You will need to demonstrate how your particular topic (e.g., delinquency) is affected by and/or affects the four domains of development: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional.
• For example, if you chose delinquency as your topic, you would first define it and present basic information (e.g., rates in the population, ages, types of behaviors, etc.). Then, you will want to show how delinquency impacts OR is impacted by physical development (e.g., gender, puberty, sleep), cognitive development (e.g., academic achievement, reasoning, brain changes), social development (e.g., peer influence, parent-child relationship) and emotional development (e.g., anger, depressive symptoms, self-esteem). You want the reader to finish the paper with a greater understanding of the scope of your particular topic.
Length. The paper is to be at least 8 pages in length, but not more than 12 pages – this does not include the title page, abstract (not required) or reference page.
Choosing a topic. A list of topics is provided below. These topics were chosen because they are important adolescent issues, but also areas where there is continuing active research. You will need to select a topic and from there, narrow down your topic as needed. For example, you may want to focus on one stage of adolescence (early, middle or late). If you pick a topic like extra-curricular activities, you may need to focus on a particular type of activity (athletics OR arts). During the term paper proposal, your instructor can give you feedback on the focus.
• Mental Health (e.g. depression, anxiety, suicide)
Research. After identifying your specific topic and stage of adolescent development, you will need to find background information highlighting the prevalence and/or importance of the issues (e.g., using delinquency as the example, information about the percent of teens who are delinquent, what age delinquent behavior is most common, break delinquency down by percents for race/ethnicity, gender, and SES). This is where the textbook and credible website may be used.
Next, you will find 8 peer-reviewed research articles (i.e., the articles have goals/hypotheses, measures/methods, human subjects, and empirical results) – two articles for each domain. Although you may include meta-analyses, theoretical papers and dissertations, these articles will not count towards the 8 peer-reviewed articles you are required to include in your paper. These 8 peer-reviewed research articles must be published in the last 10 years (2008-present). If limiting your literature search to this time frame is difficult for your topic, please consult with your instructor and ask for persmission to use older articles.
To find peer-reviewed journal articles, use a data-base called One-Search. You will be searching by subject so you will want to type in key terms such as Delinquency, Adolescent Identity, Adolescent Self-Concept – – the reference librarian can help you with search terms if you give her/him your general paper topic). Hopefully this search will yield a series of articles with author, title, and date. Scan through the titles for ones that look particularly interesting or relevant and use the option to view the abstract, this will let you know if it is an article that you might want to use as a reference for the paper.
APA Style Requirements. You will use American Psychological Association (APA) style for both in-text references and the reference page at the end of the paper. (See the lectures notes on Literature Search and APA formatting). The original thought must be cited and referenced, even if it is not a direct quote. For every in-text reference, there must be a complete reference at the end (and if you have a complete reference, you should refer to that source in-text).
A. You will start with a 1-2 paragraph introduction that: (a) presents your topic, (b) indicates why this is an important topic, and (c) briefly highlight for the reader what the paper will focus on and discuss. Be sure to cite statistics from a credible website that highlights the importance of your topic. If you are focusing on a particular adolescent period (e.g., early adolescence), include this information here as well.
B. You may need a paragraph to define important terms you will use in your paper. This will ensure that you and the reader are at the same level of understanding. Similarly, this would be a good place to present key components of any theory that is relevant to your topic (Note this section may not be necessary for all papers – it depends on your topic and goals for the paper.)
C. The main body of your paper will focus on presenting the research findings. You should organize your paper by domain, addressing each domain one at a time. Provide headings to make it clear which domain you are focused on. Summarize the research relevant for the domain and at the end of the section, draw some conclusions about what the research says about the impact of your topic on that domain or the impact of that domain on your topic.
You want to focus on the main points of the article you read, not the author’s review of previous literature but what that author actually found (results) or the major conclusions that author has arrived at in the article. Rather than including all the details about the hypotheses, samples, measures, etc. provide a brief summary of relevant details that will help the reader. For example: (e.g., “Smith and Jones (2001) attempted to assess early adolescents’ views about body weight ideals in a sample of Jamaican and British 12- to 14 year-olds by looking at girls’ and boys’ responses to photos of teenagers of different ethnic backgrounds and body types. Their results indicated that …”).
For each article, present the main hypotheses (or goals), relevant research design details (e.g., longitudinal study, brain imaging study, surveys), subjects of the study, and the most important or relevant results of the study (do not repeat the literature review presented at the start of the article – read it, but do not begin citing until you reach the description of the hypotheses/goals and the subjects). The following is an example of how to do this:
“Hogan, Smith, and Mathur (2004) were interested in the role of a fantasy disposition and openness to experience in emerging adults’ engagement in creative hobbies. Their sample consisted of ethnically and economically diverse college undergraduates who completed quesitonnaires about their emerging adult experiences. Results supported the concept, noted earlier, that fantasy and creativity are strongly associated (reference). Specifically, their results indicated that …”.
Do not present a list of articles (First, X found this. Next, Y found that. Third, and last, Z found this). Instead, integrate the articles – group by common or similar findings about the domain. Thus, you may find yourself citing an article in several different places in that domain section.
D. In your conclusion, briefly synthesize the research findings – how do the findings relate to one another? Draw your own careful and well-considered conclusions about your finding based on the evidence presented in the research articles you have cited in the body of the paper. For example, you may comment on the directions for future research in that topic. Do not simply state “more research needs to be done.” Instead, explain what kinds of research on what kinds of samples should be conducted to increase our understanding of this topic.
E. Provide a separate page with references for each article and web-site cited in the text. If you drew information from the Steinberg textbook, be sure to provide the full reference for Steinberg textbook as well. Additionally, if you provided statistics (e.g., % incarcerated youth who are male), remember to cite the website.
Writing Quality. The quality of writing has an important impact on your grade. If your paper is not clearly written or relies too much on jargon or quotes from the article, your instructor will have trouble determining your level of understanding of the content. A well-written paper will do the following:
• Avoid direct quotes – summarize everything in your own words. If you must quote, you need a reference plus page number in text (e.g., Smith & Jones, 2010, p. 298) as well as a full reference at the end. Use of more than 1-2 short quotes will result in a grade deduction.
• Present relevant research which addresses the issues and questions you raised in your introduction. Do not be afraid to mention important articles which present contradictory evidence. You can deal with the contradictions in your conclusion,
• Keeps descriptions concise and to the point.
o if you use acronyms, write out the words first then use the acronym thereafter (e.g., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)… from then on you can just use ADHD in the paper).
• Have minimal typos and grammatical errors.
Grading/Evaluation. Grades will be assigned using the rubric attached below. Please be sure to review the rubric before and after you have written your paper to make sure your paper includes the necessary information and quality of analysis. Grades may be assigned on a curve. In general, grades will align with the following criteria.
A. The A paper is well organized and developed. The paper accurately presents relevant research in all four domains and draws logical conclusions about the topic, synthesizing information across domains. It demonstrates a clear understanding and fulfillment of the assignment requirements, uses APA style appropriately, and shows the student’s ability to use written language effectively and construct sentences clearly. It is essentially free of grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors.
B. The B paper will demonstrate the same competence in the same categories as the A paper, but will show some weaknesses in one or more of the sub-categories.
C. The C paper will complete all assigned criteria, but will show fundamental weaknesses, usually organization or development. In a C paper there is barely enough specific information to illustrate and support the paper thesis.
D. The D paper will neglect one or more of the assigned tasks and be noticeably superficial – typically too simplistic or too short. The paper may have problems in development and will contain grammatical, mechanical, and/or usage errors that are serious and/or frequent.
E. The F paper will demonstrate striking underdevelopment of ideas and weak organization. It will fail to meet major content criteria for the assignment (e.g., APA references, case study interview). It will contain serious and numerous grammatical, mechanical, and usage errors. F papers also may result from plagiarism, turned in after the deadline, or failure to turn in the paper at all.
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