School News - Joan Marie Walsh

AP Seminar: Researching at SSSAS Takes a New Level

        AP Seminar, a new course offered at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes, is a course that focuses on creating skills to complete research in order to make a convincing argument. However, what makes this course unique in comparison to other courses is the ability of each student to choose what they would like to study. The group-oriented class opens up an opportunity to research whatever the student is interested in, while building lifelong fundamental skills to do so. 

        Full disclosure, I am part of the class and am very excited about it. Ms. Fusina, from the science department and Ms. Hardwick, from the history department, co-teach this cross-curricular course. In an interview with both teachers, we talked about what they really want their students to get out of this course.

        Ms. Hardwick responded with, “I want to give the students a space where they can explore their interests and practice reflection and communication while writing in a way that they want to do it and are enjoying it.” 

        Ms. Fusina stated, “I want my students to have an appreciation for what truly goes into researching something that you're interested in, or what you’re passionate about, what you’re curious about without that goal of  “I have to learn about xyz by writing this paper.” 

        Ms. Fusina emphasized the goal of AP Seminar and also addressed something else she admires about the course. She talked about the presentation piece, which encourages her students to present their research in a formal setting, in hope to make them more comfortable with oral presentations.

        Ms. Hardwick made the point that we are constantly bombarded with information from everywhere, whether it’s political or not, but in this course these skills are extremely important outside of an educational context. In my opinion, it invites us as students to study something that we are really interested in outside of everything we learn in our core classes.

        Eighteen students are enrolled in this first-time class, including Vivion Purser ‘20, who stated,“I like how we get to go in depth into the research process. It’s something that we can use to better our writing in other classes as well, and the skills I’m learning will help me a lot in college.” 

        The purpose of AP Seminar is to focus on specific skills rather than content which is really what sets it apart from other classes. The group oriented class allows for students to rely on their classmates and groups while holding each other accountable. 

        Although beginning a new course can be tricky, Ms. Fusina and Ms. Hardwick worked hard to create the best syllabus they could. I’ve already learned skills and fundamentals that I’ve never learned in any other class. I’m excited for what the rest of the year holds and that I will be able to use these skills in my other classes.