First Year of AP Research


Since the 2016-2017 school year, SIS has opened the opportunity for juniors and seniors to take the AP Capstone course consisting of AP Seminar and AP Research. This course requires two years of commitment throughout junior and senior years, one year for AP Seminar and the second year for AP Research.

“Recently, Collegeboard added a section in the common applications where AP Capstone students can verify taking the course,” said James Gerhard, high school principal. “This is huge. The change in the common application clearly shows that colleges are specifically looking for AP Capstone students because they recognize the skill and effort that must be used in order to excel in the class.”

In AP Capstone, students develop three main skills: analysis, research, and presentation. In the beginning of the course, students learn to analyze different authors’ arguments and what kind of conclusions they can draw by reading different essays, journals, and various popular sources. Then, they develop their research skills by finding academic peer review journals for further investigation in their research. Finally, the students polish their presentation skills by practicing both group and solo presentations, leading up to their final independent research projects.

“I really enjoy AP Capstone for a number of reasons,” said Sky Park (12), AP Capstone student. “There is an element of freedom when it comes to the topic you explore, but at the same time [you] establish skills that are crucial for scholarly development.”

Seniors this year will be the first to take AP Research in SIS. According to Peter Beckway, AP Capstone teacher, the performance of the 18 students in AP Seminar last year was beyond his expectations. However, as the course transitions into AP Research, concerns have started to appear with only seven students signing up for the class.

“The class is hard, time-consuming, and requires a lot effort,” said Mr. Beckway. “It seems like students are scared of the amount of work and the two-year-commitment they are obligated to make when taking this course. For some students, they might not be willing to make that commitment. I think other students are worried and anxious about doing the presentations in front of an authentic audience and speaking for a long period while getting video taped.”

In AP Seminar, students choose a topic that they want to explore, research and synthesize their different perspectives, and then present their ideas as a group. AP Research is different from AP Seminar because it is more student-oriented. Therefore the assigned research papers are independent work that cannot receive any help from the teacher. On the other hand, as long as the individual research papers are all about defining a problem and its possible solutions, students can have much more freedom with their topics.