New AP Research Class

New AP Research Class at Washington High School
Posted on 08/28/2019
WHS AP ResearchWashington High School is offering a new AP Research class for the 2019-20 school year.

AP Research is offered for one hour (third hour) at WHS and is part of the AP Capstone program offered at WHS.

AP Capstone is a diploma program based on two year-long AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. These courses are designed to complement other AP courses that the AP Capstone student may take.

AP Seminar was introduced last year at WHS and has two sections this year, first and second hours. There are 29 students taking Seminar this year compared to 20 last year.

There currently are four students taking the new AP Research class at WHS. Those students are seniors Tristan Zeh, Jenna Loepker, Abbie Vollmer and Elizabeth Derner.

AP Seminar and AP Research both are taught by Colin Flynn.

“I’m hoping to grow our Research class like we have our Seminar class. Dr. (Kelle) McCallum has been very supportive of adding this. She’s been right there with me and Mrs. (Kelly) Richard in getting this going,” Flynn said. “It’s a two-year program. Students can still take Seminar and not take Research. We had six or seven kids do that. They still get super college skills just out of that one year. In Seminar, they had to do a group project, write long papers, independent research, critical thinking, evaluating sources and public speaking. Everything they need for college success. This year, these four students in Research essentially are doing late undergrad early graduate level work as high school seniors.”

Washington High School is one of few schools in the state offering this program.

“Last year, there were only 12 schools in Missouri that offered the program. This year, I think it’s up to 20 or 25. For us to have this kind of an opportunity here in Washington is pretty awesome,” Flynn said. “These four students didn’t have to take this class. They didn’t have to challenge themselves in this way. By the end of this year, they’re going to write a paper that is four to five thousand words and includes original research that they conducted and analyzed the data from. So Freshman Comp in college is going to be a breeze for them.”

The AP Capstone program is now in its second year. Last year the first group of students took AP Seminar. Of the 20 students who took the class at WHS, 17 sat for the AP Exam. Of those 17, two students earned the top score of 5 (out of 5) and 13 of the 17 students earned a qualifying score (3 or higher out of 5) on the exam. The WHS class average was 2.94, which was slightly higher than the Missouri average of 2.76 and just below the national average of 3.05.

Students are excited about the challenge and opportunities to earn college credit, learn academic skills like writing and presenting, and make choices about what they study.

Instead of teaching specific subject knowledge, AP Seminar and AP Research use an interdisciplinary approach to develop the critical thinking, research, collaboration, time management, and presentation skills students need for college-level work.

The College Board developed the AP Capstone Diploma program at the request of higher education professionals, who saw a need for a systematic way for high school students to begin mastering these skills before college.

Students typically take AP Seminar in grade 10 or 11, followed by AP Research. Each course is year-long, and AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Research.

In both courses, students investigate a variety of topics in multiple disciplines. Students may choose to explore topics related to other AP courses they’re taking.

Both courses guide students through completing a research project, writing an academic paper, and making a presentation on their project.

Over the course of the two-year program, students are required to:

*Analyze topics through multiple lenses to construct meaning or gain understanding.

*Plan and conduct a study or investigation.

*Propose solutions to real-world problems.

*Plan and produce communication in various forms.

*Collaborate to solve a problem.

*Integrate, synthesize, and make cross-curricular connections.

Here’s what Washington High School’s four Research students had to say about their experiences in the program.

Jenna Loepker

“I like this class (Research) because I get to choose what I want to research. It will help me in college because now I know how to perform a research paper, get everything done on time, and what research method I should use. I liked the Seminar class because it taught me how to gather sources and use them to write about a topic.

“I’ve always had an interest in research. I like researching things and learning about them. I want to go into a research-oriented field. So it seemed like a good idea to take these classes.”

Loepker plans to be a Biological Engineer.

Abbie Vollmer

“I like that I get to pick what I want to do. I feel like if I had to walk into a college English class right now, I would feel more prepared. This class is more oriented to what I want to do because I want to study medicine. So with AP Research, I can still get an English credit for writing a Science paper.

Vollmer is in the process of applying to the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s six-year Med program.

Tristan Zeh

“I just liked the practicality that Seminar offered in terms of being able to analyze things and then take information from that and draw your own conclusions in a form of an argument. It seems like something everyone should take, and they do at the college level. So being able to get exposed to that in high school is a really important opportunity.”

Zeh plans to attend Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla.

Elizabeth Derner

“I took Seminar because I like the chance to choose what to research. I’ve learned a lot about the research process and using more critical thinking when evaluating sources and organizing tons of information and writing long papers.”

Derner plans to attend to the University of Missouri and major in English and Journalism.

“It’s awesome that we have a class with students that want to go in an English field, Engineering, Medicine, and Biology. They’re all different,” Flynn said. “With this class, they each get to pick their own topic and go in their own direction. They’re all still learning the same basic skills, but they’re each getting their own personalized experience that they can take with them to college.”

WHS AP Research
Pictured are Washington High School students in the AP Research class. From left are instructor Colin Flynn, and seniors Jenna Loepker, Abbie Vollmer, Tristan Zeh and Elizabeth Derner.

WHS AP Research
Washington High School students work during an AP Research class. From left are seniors Jenna Loepker, Abbie Vollmer, Tristan Zeh and Elizabeth Derner.