Knowledge Extension Refines Thinking in English

English Year 10 Extended Research Investigation

Another significant change for St Catherine’s School’s English framework in 2021 has been the creation of the Extended Research Investigation in Year 10 English. This new Unit of Study commenced in Term 3 allowing students to develop, refine and extend their knowledge and skills in independent research and carry out an investigation that focuses on a rigorous and meaningful research question.

Feedback from Year 10 English Teacher – Ms Vasiliki Spanos

The introduction of the Year 10 Extended Research Investigation this semester to the Year 10 English course has augured a refreshing and promising shift of focus for students and teachers in the study of English.

Making the exploration of an essay form that most students will encounter in their tertiary studies the centrepiece of this term’s work has been such a worthwhile exercise – as it is not often students are offered the opportunity to spend one whole term refining and developing their thinking on one topic which will produce one piece of writing.

This gift of ‘time’ and a supportive classroom environment has certainly been embraced with gusto and enthusiasm. Whilst it represents a ‘taster’ of the type of writing many students will be required to submit in later years, the Year 10 Extended Research Investigation also provides students with the opportunity to explore areas of genuine interest. Hence, I have had the pleasure of seeing such a variety of topics ranging from “The Nature of the Universe – from various perspectives” to a comparative study of “How are women portrayed in Nguyen Du’s, The Story of Kieu and Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice?”

I am sure you can appreciate just how excited we are to see such a positive level of engagement.

Students are excited to be given the freedom but also the structured guidance, in approaching the writing of their pieces. Moreover, the skill set students are developing and refining will be crucial as they embark upon their VCE studies.

Reflective journal writing at every stage, note-taking and annotation, drafting and editing as well as collaborative discussion sessions which encourage the sharing of ideas are just some areas we have been working on in our classrooms.

We are looking forward to the students’ final submission at the end of term and have been delighted with the positive response to this new, independent and exciting unit of study.

Year 10 Student Feedback

As this is a new Unit of Study, we have surveyed the students, seeking feedback on the changes. The most frequently repeated comments have been that they like choosing their own topics and being independent and self-pacing. They also appreciate they are learning skills that will prepare them for life after school. A challenge they have had to work through is narrowing their topics down to a manageable level and learning how to find reliable, academically robust sources.

“This research assignment has made me feel more independent in my studies and has assisted me with my personal organisation.”

“I have loved researching and looking into my chosen topic, and I think that this task has also helped us to develop skills for later in life. I have learnt a lot about how to research and investigate a topic properly and I think that these skills will always be vital for the future.”

“I enjoy that I get to research something that I do and am passionate about.”

In discussions with some of our recent graduates on the new Unit of Study in English, this comment was made to me by 2020 graduate, Natalie Sinicka who is currently studying at Melbourne University.

“I love that the new Unit of Study would be so useful given so many of us are thrown in the deep end at University with these new essay types and not knowing how to properly reference or cite at all, therefore having that kind of background would definitely make transitioning into University so much easier!”

These comments have reaffirmed for myself and the Year 10 English teachers, that the Extended Research Investigation is an innovative Unit of Study which allows students to acquire key skills and knowledge in research, collaboration and writing that will allow them to flourish in VCE and post school.

Mrs Ceri Lloyd

Head of English and EAL

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