The diagram above is an appropriate model more often than not! A lot of planning is required before anything actually gets done. The planning is probably the hardest part! With that in mind, the following is a list of activities and tasks that help students to plan and keep track of their projects as well as to help teachers monitor progress. The tasks can be given as the teacher sees fit. Either give them all at once and let students manage or give them a set times with set due dates. Any combination of the above can be done to best suit the teacher and the class.
Without a doubt the most difficult part of the process for students is choosing an appropriate theme or topic for the project. This task is aimed at getting students to think in a structured way about this and help them to narrow down their choices. Students narrow down and submit 3 outline ideas from which an informed choice can be made. At this stage the outline should include brief references to the following;
- potential for analysis
- possible outcomes
Its crucial for students to be able to identify exactly what information they are going to collect and how they are going to collect it. Statistically based or not, there is a need for collection of information. That information may and is likely to be a number of related data sets, but could also be a series of samples or calculations. Either way there needs to be a plan for 'what?' and 'how?' and this plan needs to consider the nature, quality and quantity of this information.
In the first activity students are asked to consider possible mathematical activity as part of their drafts. Having narrowed down their project ideas, they are then asked to identify very specific potential for mathematical analysis that involves the using the information collected to address the questions and hypotheses in the theme.
In many ways, if and when the above have been thoroughly completed the only difficult part left is the making and scheduling of a sound plan. The only thing then left to do is execute the plan. Often students will start the main body of work before they have this sound plan or really sound answers to the previous two tasks. As such the task becomes more difficult and the result less coherent. It is really worth taking the time on this stage, being as specific as possible about dates and times and to be as realistic as possible in doing so! This task aims to get students to do just that!
It is hard to be prescriptive about reflection and the main aim of this task is just to reinforce the idea that reflection at all stages is relevant and important. For possible use 'mid project' this task asks students to reflect carefully on how their project is going.
Towards the end of the project period, it is important that students look with great care at the nature and quality of their work to check that they have done what they set out to do and that they have what they need to get their marks. This task is just a checklist for students to use to help them decide answers to the above. Depending on the students this is a possible opportunity for some peer assessment by asking students to do this for each other.