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Senior Project: Senior Project - The Basics

Guide to the research process required to complete the WSA Senior Project.

The Research Process

research process

This guide explains the research process required to complete the Senior Project.

As you work through the process you will be guided from the initial step of choosing a research topic, through effectively searching for information and organizing your sources to presenting your findings with accurate references and citations.

On this page you can find information on:

What is the Senior Project?
What Are the Milestones I Must Accomplish?

Senior Project Timeline, Class of 2020
Senior Project Documents

See other pages in this section for information on:

Creativity, Activity, and Service Learning for the Senior Project
One Year Senior Project

What is the Senior Project?

Senior Project Scope and Sequence (Two-Year)

Kirlian photograph of a number two - Britannica ImageQuestThe final long term project in high school is intended for the student to put all of the skills he or she has acquired up to this point and manage a project from start to finish independently and with quite a bit of autonomy.  The work required to complete the Senior Project (SP) would begin in the junior year with the expectation that the student meets periodically with their chosen SP Advisor. There are several checkpoint assignments due in the junior year although the conclusion of the senior project is in the senior year. A student can opt to do either the Senior Project or IB Extended Essay (EE) regardless of whether the student plans to send the EE to the IB. 

Senior Project Coordinator

The Senior Project Coordinator (SPC) serves as the primary source of information and supervision for students in completing the project.  The SPC assigns a Senior Project Advisor to each student based on the topic the student chooses to research and maintains the Senior Project gradebook. The SPC also assigns the final grades for students at the end of each year.  The current SPC is Barrie Hillman at bhillman@westsoundacademy.org.

Senior Project Advisor

Each student will be assigned a faculty member to serve as their SP Advisor.  This Advisor is responsible for meeting with the student three times during the junior year and three times before the project is due. An advisor can be any WSA faculty or staff member. It is the responsibility of the student to conduct the project independently and with minimal instruction by the Advisor. This is the opportunity for students to demonstrate the skills they have developed to this point on their own.  Students will coordinate through the Senior Project Coordinator to choose their advisor.

The Senior Project (for students not doing the Extended Essay)

Each student not conducting an IB Extended Essay will begin work during the junior year and complete it during the senior year. The senior project is comprised of the following components:

  • Develop a research question within a subject area that can be supported by the faculty of WSA
  • Meet with the SP supervisor periodically during the phases of the project
  • Develop a Thesis Statement
  • Research and develop a comprehensive bibliography
  • Write a researched Argumentative Essay (2,500 word maximum, 2,000 word minimum)
  • Prepare and conduct a 15-minute presentation to a formal Senior Project Panel (10-minute presentation with 5-minute question and answer (Q&A) period)
  • Prepare a physical representation of their research (PRR) in one of the following formats:
    • Invention: Invent a machine, code a software program or program a robot (game design qualifies only if it involves significant coding)
    • Community Project: Develop a project that demonstrates a commitment to collaboration and service to the community
    • Performance: Perform on stage a theatrical and original work or perform a musical piece of original or high challenge for you
    • Visual Art: Create a significant piece of visual art with artist statement
    • Documentary or Original Film or Animation: create a documentary or original creative film
    • Website: Use a website builder to create an informative and well-organized website

For further details on the Senior Project Components, see:  What Are the Milestones I Must Accomplish?

For further information on the presentation requirement, see:  Senior Project Panel Presentation

Assessment

The Senior Project is assessed and students earn .5 credit for the entire two-year process. At the end of the junior year a pass/fail status is recorded on the student’s transcript along with the title of their essay.  At the end of the senior year, a letter grade is recorded along with the title of the entire project. If the student is in a failing condition at the end of the junior year but receives a non-failing grade at the end of the entire project, the failing grade remains on the student’s transcript for the junior year.

What Are the Milestones I Must Accomplish?

Senior Project Components (Two-Year)

Research paper

  • The thesis and content of the paper answers your research question
  • Minimum of 2000 words, maximum 2500 words
  • Includes a title page with the title, your name, date, senior project advisor’s name
  • Bibliography that includes primary and secondary sources sorted properly and parenthetical citations
  • Typed double-spaced in Arial 11 point font
  • Photographs, graphs or images can be included in the context of the paper
  • The subject matter of the paper must be able to be supported by a WSA faculty senior project advisor

Presentation to the Senior Project Panel

10-minute presentation with 5-minute question and answer (Q&A) period by the panel

  • Visual Aid in the form of a PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi style presentation software
  • Students must talk during the 10-minute presentation so prepared videos to replace that component are not allowed
  • Student should be prepare to defend their work in the Q&A session
  • Professional dress is required
  • For more information, see Senior Project Panel Presentation

Physical Representation of your Research (PRR)

Students must submit their proposed PRR to their Senior Project Advisor for approval and for specific requirements of the PRR. 

  • The PRR must fall in to one of these categories which would be presented to the formal panel outside of the 15-minute presentation
    • Invention: Invent a machine, code a software program or program a robot (game design qualifies only if it involves significant coding)
    • Community Project: Develop a project that demonstrates a commitment to collaboration and service to the community. The project  must have been conducted prior to May of the senior year
    • Performance: Perform on stage a theatrical and original work or perform a musical piece of original or high challenge for you
    • Visual Art: Create a significant piece of visual art with artist statement
    • Documentary or Original Film: create a documentary or original creative film
    • Website

Where is the work done?

The senior project work is primarily done independently and at home.  Some time may be set aside during the school day and Jan Term for students to work independently on their project.  Visiting local libraries, museums and topic-related sites can be inspiring and beneficial to a student’s understanding of their senior project topic. Remember that real books still can be the best sources of information. Expect that nearly all of the work for the project will be done at home.

How many sources do I need?

  • 5 Primary Sources of various types
  • 8 Secondary Sources with a balanced representation of books, periodicals, documentary, etc.
  • Be sure to cite your image sources

You don’t have to include exactly these numbers or combinations of types of sources; however, a well-rounded bibliography is what you are aiming for. Wikipedia is a good place to begin research on topics and to get ideas but Wikipedia will not be an acceptable source in your bibliography.

How will I manage my bibliographic information?

All WSA students have free access to an online platform called NoodleTools to manage your bibliography.  Please be sure to establish a login and password in NoodleTools - Susan Trower can assist you with this task.

How do I sort primary sources and secondary sources in NoodleTools?

Once you have established your login and password, login to NoodleTools and create a new project. Share the project to the Senior Project 2018 drop box. Click on the 'Bibliography' tab at the top and create citations for your sources. After submitting each citation you will be returned to a screen with a list of all the sources in the bibliography for this project. At the bottom of the list there is a “Select an attribute” drop-down menu . Click on the source you want to classify and then select “primary” or “secondary” for that source.  Do this for all your sources. Once you're done with that, return to the top of the bibliography list. In the upper right corner there is a “Sort” drop-down menu . As a default, keep the sources sorted “Alphabetic”.  When you are ready to print, sort your sources by selecting “primary/secondary” in the Sort drop-down menu.  Any source not classified as primary/secondary will not show up on the list when it is sorted by “primary/secondary.” 

Research Question

Students may choose any topic of interest to research regardless of time period or subject matter as long as it falls within academically appropriate content.  This freedom of choice can often make it challenging for students to narrow down the topic. Remember you are essentially asking a question and answering it with your research and writing.  So think of a question that interests you first.  Be kind to yourself and consider the feasibility and ease with which the topic can be researched. 

Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the central idea of your paper and states an arguable opinion. It informs the reader of your focus and gives a general overview of the order of analysis it will follow. It appears in the first paragraph of a paper. It is essential to do preliminary research on your topic before you try to write your thesis or else you will end up with a weak statement.

Your thesis statement must be clearly present with no question whatsoever of its existence.

Plagiarism

The ease with which the Internet makes information available may sometimes tempt students to borrow information without properly documenting its source. Poor planning and organization can make it easy to lose track of what you read and where you read it. When you present material that contains any ideas that are not yours alone without properly citing or crediting the original author, that is plagiarism.

It is important to carefully keep track of your information and sources in your paper management system as well as to build your bibliography “as you go”.

Plagiarism is taken very seriously at West Sound Academy.  If any work submitted in final draft form contains plagiarized material, the student’s grade will be severely affected.

Timeline

Students are issued a timeline for the Senior Project Milestones and a class is established in RenWeb so the SPC can post due dates and communicate easily with students.  These deadlines are hard and fast deadlines. Missing them will result in a zero for the assignment due without exception (barring formal accommodations).

Senior Project Timeline, Class of 2020

September 13, 2018     Introductory Meeting during Junior Seminar / Research Skills Lab class

  • Introduction to the Extended Essay and Senior Project

Fall, 2017     Junior Seminar/Research Skills Lab class time devoted to:

  • Introduction to WSA Library Guides
  • Understanding the difference between SP and EE
  • Determining whether you wish to submit materials to IB
  • WSA’s ethical guidelines related to academic honesty, citing and referencing, and (if applicable to your subject and topic) research and fieldwork, and use of animals
  • Research methods, referencing skills, literature review skills
  • Generating research questions

October 1-5, 2018    Group meeting with Senior Project Coordinator

  • Decision between EE and SP is made
  • Meeting is scheduled by SP Coordinator
  • Discussion of the Scope of the Senior Project
  • Noodletools Project is set up and shared with Senior Project Coordinator

November 27, 2018

DUE:  Selected Topic Due to Barrie Hillman via email 

December 13, 2018     Senior Project supervisor assigned

January 15 - 24, 2019   Mandatory meeting with Senior Project Coordinator and/or Supervisor

  • Subject Area Declared; Topic Selection (narrow topic list)
  • 5 hours of background reading completed required 

April 8-12, 2019   Mandatory meeting with supervisor

  • Planning for summer work on Senior Project
  • Research Question refinement
  • Scheduled by student in advance at discretion of supervisor
  • 30 points

Due: Two primary and two secondary worksheets are due. Use the same worksheets provided by Eric in History class. Sources must be from the library databases and entered into NoodleTools

DUE: Student brings a printout of the bibliography to the meeting with the source worksheets. 

30 points

 

April 23, 2019   Mandatory meeting with Senior Project Coordinator

Summer Break


Senior trip - first week of school

  • Work sessions on drafting writing about the source worksheets completed.

September 8, 2019

DUE: 2-3 pages of body paragraphs due to Supervisor and Barrie Hillman

  • Emailed document must arrive by 3:00 PM on 9/8/2019
  • Worth 50 points towards Fall Semester SP grade
  • Late paper = 0 points

September 8-11, 2019    Mandatory meeting with Supervisor regarding quality of preliminary draft

October 20, 2019

DUE: Complete draft due to Barrie Hillman by 3:00 PM
  • Two (2) printed copies and an emailed digital copy required by 3:00 PM on 10/20/2019
  • Draft must include
    • Title Page,  Introduction, Body of Paper, Conclusion, Works Cited
  • ​​Worth 90 points towards Fall Semester SP grade
  • Late paper = 0 points

October 27 - 31, 2019

Mandatory draft (revision) conference with supervisor
  • Scheduled by student in advance at discretion of Supervisor     
  • Set aside minimum of one hour for meeting

November 30, 2019

FINAL COPY DUE to Barrie Hillman by 3:00 PM
  • Two (2) printed copies and an emailed digital copy required by 3:00 PM on 11/30/19
  • Final copy must conform to Formal Presentation Guidelines as provided to Candidate (see note above)
  • Worth 90 points towards Fall Semester SP grade
  • Late paper = 0 points

January 10, 2020

DUE: Physical Representation of your Research (PRR) proposal due via email to Barrie Hillman

 

February 11, 2020   Mandatory meeting with Supervisor

  • on the progress you have made with your Physical Representation of your Research

March 25-26, 2020   Senior Project Board Presentations with ERPs 

  • Speak on the topic using a presentation software for 10 minutes
  • Present your PRR with reflection on the CAS learning outcomes included for 2 minutes
  • Answer 3 minutes of Q&A from the board and audience

Senior Project Coordinator

Barrie Hillman

Barrie Hillman

Head of School
Baker Hall

Email:  bhillman@westsoundacademy.org

Senior Project Documents

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