Starting the project

Getting students started

Students need to take ownership of their reflective projects; this page is about kickstarting the reflective project and establishing the Researcher's Reflection Space with recognising the usefulness of skills acquired so far, being introduced to the criterian, discussing ethical dilemmas and exploring cultural assumptions. Investigating ethical and cultural dimensions can help define the parameters of where their own investigation will lead.

Establishing ownership

Consider all the stakeholders

As an educator, how do you get your students to take ownership of the reflective project? The early stages need lots of groundwork. See below for supporting activities, presentations and information sheets that expands on the suggestions that follow.

  • Carry out a reflection to identify working practices that work for students individually
  • Build on PPS. Many schools start the reflective project a term into the school year building up skills in PPS so carry out explicit reflection on how ideas, advice, resources and tools might transfer to a new context
  • Resist the urge to move too quickly away from laying foundations of ethical understanding and utilise resources that focus on multiple perspectives, questioning assumptions, problem solving dilemmas and comparison of local and different global contexts. The lesson plan below can be utilised for all these skills.
  • Break down the assessment criteria into keywords with activities for the student to explore independently, in groups and with their supervisor before expanding on more detail.
  • Ethical dimensions, issues and dilemmas will make life easier for your supervisors.  Every PPS teacher, reflective project and CP coordinator has had to work hard on getting their head around this area so it is no different for the team of supervisors you may have.

    Understanding the criteria

    Exploring criteria - broken down into keywords
    Criteria at a glance
    Criterion A: Focus and Method - 6 marksEthical dilemma and issue
    Research Question
    Criterion B: Knowledge and Understanding in Context - 9 marksContext
    Local or global example
    Alternative perspectives
    Criterion C: Critical Thinking - 12 marksResearch
    Discussion and evaluation
    Criterion D: Communication - 3 marksStructure
    Criterion E: Engagement and Reflection - 6 marksProcess
    Research focus
    Assessment criteria at a glance (handout for folders, laminate me, set as desktop background ...)
    Notes on introducing the criteria
    Introducing students to the keywords in criteria, with marks awarded, as a starting point is a good idea with a few caveats. They must appreciate that whilst some areas have higher marks available than others, they are all interdependent. For example, if the ethical dilemma and research question is not appropriate then it will have a huge knock on effect on how successfully they will demonstrate knowledge and understanding in context (Criterion B) as well as Critical Thinking skills (Criterion C). An unchallenged ineffectual research question will also impact Criterion E as the reflection might be deemed as limited in awareness.

    Lesson plan: Case-study of Eco-tourism

     Step 1: Criterion B concerns demonstrating understanding and knowledge of the ethical dimension.  This works as Individual/Pair/Group work
    Task: Use a selection of sources to put into practice skills needed for Criterion B. The sources intentionally give some information but not all.
     Part A: Use the information in this presentation to identify the key elements of criterion B
     Part B: Identify what further information you would need to fulfil the criterion successfully and locate 2 supplementary sources that you can justify would help you.
     Part C: Present your findings in your own powerpoint (or other agreed choice of presentation)
     Part D: On completion, reflect on how your response was similar and different to your peers’ responses

    Step 2: Exploring Criterion B and C: Ethnocentrism v Cultural Relativism.

    a) Ask students to discuss the definitions of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism before watching the video.

    b) Reflect on the work in Step 1: Eco-tourism.

    Can you see examples of ethnocentrism at work? Have you made any assumptions based on culture? How have you demonstrated cultural relativism?

    EXTENSION: As students add complexity to their discussion of cultural impact, they will be demonstrating the skills required of Criterion C: Critical thinking.
    The result of this lesson and the discussion of a case study where students utilise the criteria skills in an authentic way, might be a good opportunity to build in critical thinking awareness. The page on Critical Thinking expands here greatly, but the use of acronyms such as PEEL, REAL and SEAL might be very relevant. The more authentic discussions students have where they are introduced to a case study through a particular line of inquiry (such as the ethnocentricity and cultural relativism above), the more they will naturally demonstrate critical thinking.

    Quick Ideas

    Do I know what works for me?

    Use this reflective process for student to identify working practices that work for students individually

    PPS review

    Carry out explicit reflection on the 5 key themes and how ideas, advice, resources and tools might transfer to this new context[1]

    Worksheet of PPS review

    Responsibility words

    As students get to know the demands of the reflective project, they can take ownership of the project by considering the responsibilities suggested by key verbs (the traditional definition of a 'doing word' is very appropriate here). Notes are included below. This can certainly be done as a sorting activity if appropriate to the group. It would make an excellent first session with a supervisor for the student to discuss their responsibilities and their personal reflection of areas of strengths and weaknesses they anticipate.

    Focus              Research                  Communicate                  Reflect              Plan                 Write                        Check

    Notes of potential responses

    Find an issue connected with your CRS that presents an ethical dilemma
    Record sources that you find at the beginning of the process
    Keep a RRS – Researcher’s Reflection Space - consistently tto  reflect upon progress and record your meeting notes with your supervisor
    Discuss your ethical dilemma with your supervisor
    Meet all internal and external assessment deadlines
    Inform your supervisor of any issues you may have an extra help you may have received
    Complete your RPPF as the project takes place and NOT at the end
    Plan ahead
    Make a schedule, knowing your work habits and commitments, and stick to it
    Try to anticipate delays and adapt
    Develop research question and structure to project
    Be clear how your question links to the CRS
    Acknowledge all sources
    Meet all the criteria
    Proofread final project

    Further resources

    Expanding on Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism

    This video expands, with more detail, on the impact and implications of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism which students can consider when reflecting on their own judgments and assumptions. Depending on the group, this is a good opportunity for a drama activity, creation of a photo essay or satirical picture.


    1. ^ adapted from Reflective Project: Skills for Success by Hodder Education, p2.
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