Mr. Meyerowitz, a Subject Expert History Teacher and Master Teacher, is one of our resident experts on research methods. He was instrumental in bringing the AP Capstone course to campus in our second year. Mr. Meyerowitz has taught both AP Research and AP Seminar at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. He is also a National Board Certified Teacher.
Every spring, dozens of our seniors present authentic research that they have spent much of the year composing. These presentations, which have become a rite of passage for many BASIS Independent Silicon Valley graduates, are opportunities for our students to find their voices as scholars. Students work diligently with campus mentors and as interns and lab assistants off campus to pose a significant inquiry, to construct a hypothesis after engaging with extant scholarship, and to generate data and conclusions from a replicable method. While the finished product is thought provoking and may inspire future scholarship, it represents only the tip of an iceberg, a monument to their academic pursuits and training at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley.
From grade 5, students pose questions and support their hypotheses with evidence, whether from ancient texts or scientific tests. In our middle school, teachers seek opportunities for our students to understand complex concepts in the arts, humanities, and sciences not only through direct instruction but also through expression and experimentation. Our middle school instructors ask students real-world questions, often interdisciplinary ones, and students must synthesize materials and experiences to formulate their own cogent and critical responses. In high school, students pose their own inquiries and find materials that support their hypotheses; they are accountable for their own learning and personalize their scholarship.
Mr. Meyerowitz in his AP Research class
The finished products in our Social Sciences Department last year provide a few illustrations of how instructors promote student inquiry and research. In AP Government in grade 9, students investigated specific mid-term elections in 2018 and predicted outcomes based on demographic and historical data. AP European History students in grade 10 selected a piece of modern European fiction or theater and used it to explore the extent to which the work reinforced or subverted, reflected and refracted, contemporary movements and polities. AP American History students in grade 11 selected a monograph about a culture, conflict, or phenomenon in U.S. History that they examined in terms of how the author contextualized his/her subject, synthesized his/her topic across time periods and regions, and used primary and secondary source data. Finally, Colonial and Post-Colonial students in grade 12 explored the extent to which the British succeeded in a political, economic, or cultural objective before 1860 and the extent to which a post-colonial state has continued to bear the imprint of British power since 1960. As with Senior Projects and AP Research Projects, students learn how to use academic databases, how to construct and annotate bibliographies in a consistent style, and how to use the work of other scholars to formulate arguments of their own. Thus, by the time that students identify their inquiry for their Senior or AP Research Project, scores of instructors have helped them become independent thinkers and trained them to use the tools and tricks of academic scholarship.
BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is committed to preparing students to think, write, and speak about issues in which they have a personal or professional stake. This year, we have reinvested in academic databases (i.e. JSTOR and EBSCO), in courses tailored to student interests (e.g., AP Capstone), and in software to ensure the highest standards of academic integrity (i.e. Turnitin). Our students are empowered to conduct research on topics that appeal to them, to extend class discussions to arguments they construct outside the classroom, and to debate relevant issues based on supporting data. In order for our students to become their best selves academically and personally, we hold them to the highest standards of excellence in the work they write and present. Once students embrace the research process, they become gatekeepers of new information as well as credible investigators and problem solvers. While BASIS Independent Silicon Valley students may look forward to a singular project that they will complete as seniors, it is instructive to remind them that they should take every other opportunity to define their voice and interests and that this project, like many others, is just part of the iceberg that they will build and refine all their lives.
BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a grades 5-12 private middle and high school based in San Jose, California, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum