Independent Research students explore the world through research


Many enthralling classes are available Marian girl to take in her four years. But one that is commonly overlooked is Independent Research. This rigorous course is taught by social studies teacher, Mr. Tom Baker and physics teacher, Mrs. Sharon Genoways. The teachers supervise and assist the students as they research the topic they choose more in depth. At the end of each semester, the student presents their topic and what they’ve discovered.

Many students are nervous at the start of the semester but by the end they present themselves as confident and knowledgable. “I have never had a student tell me that she regretted taking this course. It provides excellent preparation for college courses and is very different from any ‘normal’ class,” Genoways said.


Breaking free Katie Williams ’17 giving her research presentation over the Effects of Academic Redshirting on juvenile development. Photo courtesy of Janna Whited.

The topics they choose are completely up to them, for instance senior Jenna Popp studied “How Medical Cannabis Could Replace Current Medications and Treatments for People with Cancer, Epilepsy and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” because it is a controversial issue in today’s society.

She said her goal was to open other people’s minds on the many uses of marijuanna and go more in-depth on why it’s illegal in the first place. “I recommend taking this class. It is very much a college course. Whatever you decide to research could potentially be what you want to do in the future. You will learn so much about research and how to write in APA,” Popp said. Some also chose topics that related to themselves or people they knew. This was the case with senior Asia Rollins. Her topic was the “Psychological Effects of Transracial Adoption” and how it can alter a child’s racial identity. “I know quite a few people who are transracially adopted.  I wanted to see if research showed that this type of adoption is in the best interest of a child,” Rollins said.

Once the student finds her topic, she researches and selects the factors that she wants to be included in her final product. When Rollins got in touch with the adoption experts, they rated the factors she chose to go along with her topic. These included the child’s environment, age, the adoptive parents perspective and the access the child has to interact with others from a similar origin. “I was surprised to see that all three of my experts rated my factors similarly.  The results of my questionnaire were surprising because all the experts came from different backgrounds,” Rollins said.

Janna Whited was another senior who participated in this course first semester. She studied the “Potential Ethical Concerns of Human Genetic Engineering.” “I’ve always been interested in the medical field and babies, and I’ve always heard the term designer babies, but I really wanted to find out what that meant and if this technology was even real,” Whited said.

The term “designer babies” has been floating around, and she wanted to know more about it. She connected with experts on the topic and read their work in order to get a better understanding of her topic.

In addition, when the class ends, the student’s research paper is officially published which makes them stand out when applying for college.

Although this course may sound quite difficult, the benefits make it all worth it. “Students learn a different style of research and writing, they become totally responsible for their own learning and project outcomes, learn presentation skills  and also learn how to properly/confidently speak to experts in various fields of study,” Genoways said.

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