What the syllabus says about project work Information on project work is embedded in various parts of the syllabus. In the preliminary course, the last unit “Personal and Group Systems and Projects” contains the first reference to mandatory project requirements
What the syllabus says about project work in the Preliminary Course Notice on page 29 the requirement for TWO projects in Year 11 One must be an individual project One must be a group project
Could more than two projects becarried out in the preliminary course? The syllabus doesn’t say that this cannot be done. However, given that: there is only 3 terms and Year 11 has a number of interruptions (excursions, camps, etc..)it is unlikely that you would get the chance to do so.
What the syllabus says about project work in the HSC Course In the HSC course, the first unit “Project Work”, contains the references to project work for the HSC course Notice on page 32 the requirements for projects in the HSC course are: One large project, or A number of smaller projects NOTE: if the smaller projects option is chosen, then the projects must “..take place over a significant period of time and involve sustained work.”
What the syllabus says about project work in the HSC Course The syllabus stresses that the single project or group of projects should:“…allow the students to see an information system in its full context”. 20% of course time is a suggested as a suitable allocation for project work in the HSC course Projects can be individual or group projects.
Quality Teaching Project work is fertile ground for the application of quality teaching principles. While it is tempting to address as many QT dimensions / elements as possible, it would be better to restrict your self until you are familiar with the course content. All projects should address the “substantive communication” element
Shortcomings of the Syllabus Given the supposed emphasis and importance of project work, it is a bit of a mystery as to why the authors of the syllabus “buried” the information on project requirements within the introduction to the units “Personal and Group Systems and Projects” and “Project Work” The information should be published on a separate page of its own as well as in the units of work.
Short comings of the Syllabus As well, given the structure of the syllabus, a teacher could be forgiven for ignoring project work until almost the end of the preliminary course! Perhaps this could be rectified when programming the course by moving material from “Planning, Design and Implementation” and “Personal and Group Systems projects” to earlier in the course
What we do at AGHS After much experimentation, I eventually decided on a 2 by 2 approach Two projects in the Preliminary course Two (and a half) in the HSC course
What we do at AGHS - Preliminary Students do an individual project and a group project. As well as the two projects, our students undertake a: Half yearly exam, and A yearly exam. There isn’t really enough time to do more than this. To do so would be onerous on the students and teachers.
What we do at AGHS - Preliminary The individual project is usually a written analysis of an information system Students are asked to analyse an example of a real information system, as supplied by the teacher, in terms of the components in the diagram (see lecture 1) They prepare their answer in class time using whatever research they require for the perfect answer They are then required to write up the analysis in class under exam conditions without their prepared answer
What we do at AGHS - Preliminary The group project varies, however in recent years it involves preparing resources for a simulated company This involves the development of • company logo • client database • employee database • in house newsletter • product spreadsheet • web site • mail merged invitation to company party for clients and employees • animation/slideshow for company foyer
What we do at AGHS - HSC Students have to complete a half yearly exam and a trial HSC. I try to do two practical projects with the students: Multimedia Systems option Decision Support Systems option They also do a Communications Systems assignment which is basically theory
What we do at AGHS - HSC First, a long-term Multimedia Systems project is begun in term 4 of Year 11: Making a Web- based Year 12 Year Book CD Initially they are only collecting resources (photos, student details, etc) until we do the Multimedia Systems option This is a whole class project but each student is assigned responsibility for individual tasks which are marked separately
What we do at AGHS - HSC The second project is a shorter project (in allocated time) This project is carried out at the end of the Decision Support Systems option In the past this has been to develop an expert system using Xrules which is a HyperCard-based application Xrules is free but Mac-only. There other expert system applications available for PC
What we do at AGHS - HSC The Communications Systems assignment requires each student to prepare an answer to a past Communications Systems question (supplied by me, a different one each) They have to present their question and answer to the class using PREZI I usually make this the last topic before the Trial HSC so it is good exam preparation (as well as being quick to mark before final assessment marks are due!)
What we do at AGHS - HSC Because of plagiarism, or the suspicion of it, we are careful to make sure each student has a different theme or question or tasks of a similar nature only to complete and that all work on assessment tasks is done at school
“Enhancing Project Work in SDD and IPT” This document was released a few years ago The document attempts to address the issue of Quality Teaching in the senior computing syllabi
“Enhancing Project Work in SDD and IPT” It is a very thorough document and if you take the time to read it , will give you a very sound grounding in the requirements for project work The most controversial issue surrounding this document was to do with assessment
Controversy. One of the report’s authors and a senior HSC marker, suggested that if teachers set a project for their class they were not compelled to mark the entire project Teachers can mark only certain components of the project, if all they want to do is gather assessment information on particular outcomes I described this thought as “liberating”
Controversy. Many expressed discomfort with the idea, stating that we knew of many students who would baulk at completing a project that wasn’t being completely marked and that we must provide marking criteria so it would be clear to them that this is the case Teacher’s response was that “ it would then become a disciplinary matter and if necessary appropriate measures should be taken” He was of the belief that it was like students not completing an in-class task
Controversy. Many remain unconvinced by his point of view Based on my experience with senior students and school principals, I am fairly sure that upon receipt of the first complaint, I’d be directed to mark the whole assignment However, you may wish to adopt the previously mentioned approach with your classes (but probably only once!)
Striking a Balance One of the main purposes of HSC assessment is to rank students and space them appropriately on a scale However, given the nature of project work, should we view project work as a means for students to reinforce and extend their learning, rather than a major tool used to rank students? Are exams better as the primary tools used to determine a student’s rank or would this lead to too great an emphasis on exams for determining a student’s final ‘worth’ in IPT?
Striking a Balance Bear in mind that IPT is an elective course and if the assessment is made too tough, then students will vote with their feet A balance must be sought, that will enable students to confidently tackle the HSC exam
Developing the project Page 36 to 50 of the “Enhancing Project Work” document provides outstanding information on how this is done. Just a few tips… Provide written documentation and a marking scale to students (and record when they received it), that way they are aware of the standard you are after. Have some examples of past students’ work I usually have the assignment specification and marking scale on the “EDMODO” and pinned up on a notice board in the classroom as 95% of students misplace the specification within a week
Developing the project If students want to work outside of class time restrict them to the development of the documentation All product development should occur in class time Students often make special requests to develop a project using a special kind of software that they have at home on their computer. Avoid complying with these requests. It is usually code for “I know someone who can help me develop or will give me a project already developed for my use This is an equity and fairness issue I try to sell this to students as a constraint on the product development and make sure it is spelled out in the documentation for the project
Developing the project The other side of this issue is, of course, that the school has a responsibility to ensure that all student work is backed up and secure Also, be aware of students with older siblings or friends at other schools who may have done IPT While I am in favour of teachers sharing resources with other teachers, be aware that students “share” assignments with students at other schools.
Developing the project I suggest that projects be developed around a theme or a scenario They can still be open ended, however by placing the above constraint on the project, you can be reasonably sure that the students have developed the project by themselves Some of the marks for the task should come from the product and some from the accompanying documentation
Where to get ideas for Projects “Enhancing Project Work in IPT and SDD”. The IPT support document has some good examples of projects The CSTA syllabus document also has plenty of good ideas. All of the published text books I have reviewed have some good ideas for projects
Draft Performance Bands Included in the pp 3 space These describe the typical performance by students that attain each band Useful for constructing marking rubrics for projects The can also be useful for student reports