Inter Disciplinary Projects
Interdisciplinary Projects – Credit Points
Project learning has been defined as "securing learning (i.e. the acquisition of knowledge, habits, skills, ideals, etc.) indirectly by means of activities which have either following characteristics; goals attained through concrete results or accomplishments, and essential learning as a byproduct of the activity (project) itself" (Bickel, 1994). Lillian Katz (1996) further describes projects as "an in-depth investigation of a topic worth learning more about…The key feature of a project is that it is a research effort deliberately focused on finding answers to questions…The goal of a project is to learn more about the topic rather than to see right answers to questions posed by the teacher.
At Aurora’s Degree College students who are in the second year of the various undergraduate courses are initiated to do interdisciplinary project activities are commonly known as IDP activities. Projects take on added dimensions when infused with an interdisciplinary approach, and can be utilized to take a very dynamic social, economic, political and environment related problems or issues to look for pragmatic and relevant solution. An ID project thus provides a forum for students to demonstrate mastery of important concepts and skills through the practical and creative application of those concepts and skills, rather than rote memorization and testing. Effective projects are built on inquiry, the asking of important questions. Facts, figures, theories, constructs, opinions-no data can exist without the questions, which proceed, produce and follow them. Asking and pursuing important questions transform students from passive receivers of information into active learners, thinkers and problem-solvers. Through inquiry, students take ownership of both knowledge and the knowledge-gathering process. Consequently, the project can be structured in the form of a series of questions, to which students are encouraged to add (and answer) their own.
Students from various streams of courses form a group of four so as to work among themselves towards learning from each other. This not only helps them to learn from each other, but facilitates towards comprehensive evolution of team learning. Each one of these IDP groups are facilitated and mentored by a faculty member who spends large amounts of time in guiding and giving direction to the thought process of the students. This helps even faculty members to get to know several things beyond curriculum
A compelling final format for interdisciplinary projects is paper presentation and exhibition. Exhibitions are special events where a community of scholars pulls together in a meaningful way. Exhibitions generally have three major components: written, visual and live presentations/demonstrations. They may be group or individualized exhibitions. Although components vary from project to project, exhibitions afford students an opportunity to demonstrate and celebrate their knowledge and talents, those elements, which noted educational reformer Theodore Sizer calls "standards of intellect" (Sizer, 1985).
Through the use of backwards planning, "exhibitions drive the curriculum" (Sizer, 1992). Well-crafted projects allow students to make a variety of interdisciplinary connects, and enable them to make those connections in ways appropriate for them. Experience has shown that the interdisciplinary project is not merely something students should act upon, like a worksheet or a book report. The project itself should be designed in such a way that it acts upon the student as well, forcing him/her into situations where not only learning, but learning about learning, takes place.
In order for this type of interaction to occur, specific elements should be present in the design of an interdisciplinary project. These include a project rationale, essential questions driving the project, specific criteria to show mastery, specific deadlines for project components, a means of exhibition and expression, assessment rubric/checklists, a means of self-assessment and documentation.
The following are the key elements in the IDP activities
Every student would be given five assignments just before their summer vacation begins after their first year examinations. These assignments are supposed to submitted by all the students before 1st Week of the June or just while their second year course is set to begin. It is compulsory that all students need to do the assignments. All the five assignments need to be filed based and to have documentation and finally to be submitted as word documents with not less than 500 words each. In case of specific assignments, students also need to submit the video and pictorial documentation.
The students would be assessed and evaluated based on the timing of the submission of the assignments and also the quality of assignments submitted.
Each assigned group of students need to give the topic for the project before 31st August 2009 and complete the documentation of the project and submit the project report before 1st November 2009. It is to be noted that all the four members of the team must be active and do the project together. Even if one member of the project team is not active, that team would be disqualified and would not be evaluated.