High School Senior Project Gets Makeover

by | May 20, 2014

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The senior project – opportunity for some students, bane of existence for others – is getting revamped. The School Committee approved the changes at a meeting earlier this month.

The new senior project will offer four different “pathways” for students to follow. The idea is to be able to better adapt to students’ different strengths, according to project coordinator Joanne Gilden.

The senior project has been a graduation requirement since 2008 and students had to show they’d completed 15 hours of fieldwork with a mentor, write about their experiences in a journal, and write a research paper. Then, they had to present their work before a panel of judges.

But that one-size-fits-all approach meant some students who were, say, studying guitar playing, would have to spend a good deal of time devoted to writing a research paper as opposed to actually practicing guitar. Alternatively, students with a more research-focused project would be required to chart 15 hours of field work with a mentor in addition to their individual research.

The new program has been designed to work for both types of students. Here are the four new senior project “pathways”:

1. Academic Paper: The student undertakes thesis-driven, in-depth research in an area chosen by the student with consultation by a mentor/advisor. The work will result in a 14- to 16-page paper, an oral presentation and thesis defense.

2. Career Exploration: The student explores a career path, including completing an individual career assessment, career informational interviews, a minimum 20 hours of job shadowing, an 6- to 10-page report, resume, and cover letter.

3. New Creative Skill: While many EGHS students have done senior projects in which they learn a new skill, now there will be NO research paper requirement and the fieldwork hours have been expanded to 30 hours. In addition, the student will need to have at least eight journal entries documenting their experiences.

4. Community Service Learning: A student works with a community or nonprofit group or business to assess issues of importance, available resources, and possible programs or initiatives. The student would then develop an action plan and then evaluate how that plan is working. Fieldwork would be a minimum of 20 hours. A reflection paper of at least five pages is also required.

The EGHS PTG will get an overview of the new senior project at its meeting Wednesday at 9:30 in the Guidance Dept.

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