Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Final Project Sample Proposal # 1


For my final project in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program, I propose researching the need for a childcare center for parents/guardians who are furthering their education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. At this center, parents could receive subsidized childcare while they attend classes or related activities. What is the magnitude of need for an on-campus childcare center that provides services to parents/guardians attending UNCW? My objectives are to answer this question and to make recommendations based on my findings. Resulting data and recommendations could be used by UNCW as a basis for the establishment of a childcare center or a beginning for more extensive research.

My course of study and the MALS program have guided me toward a lifelong commitment to supporting education. One of my first classes in the MALS program was GLS 592: Black Mountain School. The class offered me a chance to study Black Mountain College, a truly unique educational community that once existed in the mountains of North Carolina. The school's students, faculty, and administrators shared a vision of education beyond the classroom and created and environment that fostered innovation. I was most impressed by the sacrifices of time and energy that Black Mountain students made in order to just be present to learn. I believe that similar sacrifices are made by many parents who balance a full-time job, parental duties, and other commitments while finding enough time to attend classes and meet with study groups.

In my fourth term as a MALS student, GLS 502: Contemporary Issues in Liberal Studies solidified my passion for education. Dr. Mike Wentworth not only brought to life the importance of a liberal arts education, he made manifest the personal value of a life dedicated to learning. Required readings, such as Educating Rita and Master Harold and the Boys, highlighted adversity, albeit fictitious, and the tremendous impact education can have on an individual's life. In addition to my coursework, my MALS education has also been non syllabus-based, shaped by interaction with my peers. In each class, I have been seated next to someone who is transforming his or her life through education. I have come to know grandparents, mothers of teenagers, mothers of newborns, and, most notably, people of all ages and backgrounds who simply love to learn. Would someone different have been sitting next to me if affordable childcare and a supportive community were available? This is the question I wish to pursue.

I see my final project as a way to make it possible for more people to experience the transformative power of pursing an education. I expect my research to raise awareness of childcare as an important issue to UNCW students and to other colleges and universities in North Carolina. Parents and guardians of children have the responsibility to care for their children, but that responsibility should not be a barrier to their own education. I would like to address the needs of all students and potential students: beginning with childcare would be a manageable yet significant starting point.

My final project will include a needs assessment at UNCW and comprehensive research of childcare facilities at other colleges and universities in the region. The needs assessment will answer my thesis question and should provide more detailed information on specific community needs. My methodology will include a sample survey of current UNCW students. This research method will allow me to collect relevant data on current needs of UNCW students at a minimum of expense and inconvenience to reserarch participants. I expect to identify trends and models at comparable institutions through research on childcare centers located on-campus at other University of North Carolina System schools.

Additionally, I will survey North Carolina community colleges, Colonial Athletic Association schools, North Carolina independent colleges and universities, and schools that make up U.S. News and World Report's "Top Universities in the South." A separate but equally important issue is the childcare needs of faculty and staff at UNCW. While employment benefits such as on-site childcare can be key issues in attracting and retaining quality employees, this is a human resource issue that is beyond the scope of my project's focus on childcare needs of UNCW students. For this reason, my project will not include a study of the childcare needs of UNCW faculty and staff. However, in discussing childcare centers at comparable higher education institutions, I will address the greater benefits of these centers, including benefits to faculty and staff. I will also include a history of childcare initiatives at UNCW. This section of the project will include information gathered in a 1990 survey of UNCW students, faculty, and staff, resulting recommendations made by the Faculty Senate Committee on Childcare, and interviews with current UNCW administrators addressing the extent to which these recommendations were implemented.

Perhaps a potential benefit of this study of childcare needs of UNCW students will be to initiate further study of staff and faculty childcare needs at UNCW and the barriers to satisfying those needs.

In the course of research and writing, the following sources may be used:

Fashola, Olatokumbo S. Building Effective Afterschool Programs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2001.

Soriano, Fernando. Conducting Needs Assessments: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage Publications, 1995

Projected Schedule

June 11, 2003 --------- Submit final project proposal to MALS director

September 8 ----------- Submit first draft of project to Project Committee Director

September 15 --------- Receive first draft back with comments

September 22 --------- Submit second draft to Project Committee Director

September 29 --------- Receive second draft back with comments

October 13 ----------- Submit third draft back to Project Committee

October 21 ----------- Receive third draft back with comments

October 29 ----------- Project defense

Last Update: September 8, 2010