The first description begins with the domain of the project (cognitive development), then cites a shortcoming in the literature related to a particular theory within that domain. The author ends the proposal by specifying the research question, which implies what the project should contribute to the body of knowledge about cognitive development.
In L. S. Vygotsky’s theory of children’s cognitive development, a feature that has attracted increasing attention among psychologists and educators has been his zone of proximal development, which can be defined as “the set of actions that the child can perform when helped by another person, but which are not yet available to the child in his individual acting” ( Valsiner, 1987, p. 233). Although Vygotsky’s proposing such a zone has been widely praised, the present writer’s survey of the literature on learning suggests that very little is known about how to recognize when a child has entered such a zone of readiness for instruction. But if the people who bear responsibility for children’s learning are to profit from the notion of a zone of proximal development, they need guidance in how to recognize when a child is within that zone. The purpose of this dissertation is to help fulfill that need by seeking answers to three questions: (1) What are the potential indicators of the zone of proximal development”(2) How accurately can each indicator predict a learner’s readiness to acquire a particular skill nor type of knowledge”(3) Which characteristics of teaching methods are most effective for promoting learning in the zone of proximal development?
The second example opens with the research problem, cast in the form of a hypothesis, which is followed by the domain of knowledge (social stratification) and a rationale suggesting how the author’s project could add to that domain. The proposal has been rendered more elaborate than the cognitive-development example by this author’s bolstering the presentation with several citations from the professional literature and defining two key terms.
This thesis is designed to test the hypothesis that the class structure of a society is a social construction which is perceived differently (a) by people at different levels of the structure and (b) by different age cohorts.
My aim in conducting such an investigation is to help settle a controversy in the field of social stratification about the defining characteristics of social-class structures. A large body of theory and empirical research has been devoted to identifying dimensions of social class ( Allsworth, 1973; Bennel & Masovic, 1967; Garcia, 1982; Mendoza, 1990; Swenson, 1986). However, the issue of how people in the social system perceive the structure continues to be muddled and controversial ( Johnson & Haxton, 1996; Pontius, 1992). Furthermore, there is a lack of information about how the variable age-cohort may influence perceptions of class. My intention is to help clarify these matters by studying social-class perceptions of residents of the city of Mapleton.
For the purpose of this thesis, the concepts social construction and age cohorts are defined in the following manner:
Social construction refers to the belief that social class is not an objective reality, in the sense of a necessary relationship among people based on their possessions, abilities, or accomplishments. Instead, social class is an agreement (a mental construction) among people about (a) where individuals belong in terms of their relative prestige and (b) the characteristics that contribute to that prestige.
The term age cohort refers to the period of time (such as the year or cluster of a few years) during which a particular group of people were born. For example, all persons who are now age 14 form one cohort, and all who are now age 27 form another.