Personal projects are developed and completed by individual students, but they may involve group work (for example, performing in a play). While the product or outcome may be created collaboratively, each student’s individual contribution and process through the five stages of learning must be apparent. Group projects that allow students to individually take responsibility for different aspects of the project can prove to be a valuable experience too. The personal project is always assessed individually for each student.
Students need to identify a goal, based on areas or topics of interest to them. It is useful for students to have the opportunity to brainstorm and think about ideas, as well as to discuss ideas with other people—for example, other students, friends outside of school, relatives and teachers. Project supervisors need to guide and advise students on the selection of topics for the project. However, they have to balance providing support with objectivity and must not take over the project from the student. Ownership of the project must remain with the student.
Students should document their thinking, their research process and the refining and development of their initial ideas. Students will develop an outline of the goal they wish to pursue, which will often form the basis of the first meeting between the student and the supervisor.
Students should develop a goal that they can accomplish, but which challenges their knowledge, skills or techniques appropriately. Goals should be achievable based on the time and resources available. Some proposed projects may require overly complex procedures or a process of learning that is too lengthy. Other projects may be too simplistic and present no challenge to the student. Deciding whether a project is realistic or unrealistic for a student will be an outcome of the discussions between the student and the supervisor.
The student’s individual strengths and weaknesses need to be considered alongside his or her specific interests and prior knowledge. While collaboration with others will form a part of the project, the project must be the student’s own; he or she must have the capacity to complete the project without relying solely on the help of others. The student may involve teachers and other appropriate adults as resources, but students must complete the project independently.