The personal project might be your first student-driven learning experience, which may be daunting and overwhelming to you. Still, I guarantee that if you follow this guide, you might find yourself enjoying the process.
As the name suggests, the personal project is an opportunity for you to envision, explore, research, develop, create, reflect, and present something of unique challenge, significance, and interest. The Personal Project encourages students to practice and strengthen their approaches to learning (ATL) skills, offering many opportunities for differentiation of learning and expression according to students’ individual needs etc., etc., etc. The focus of this article is not to detail the aim of the Personal Project, but instead to give you an insight into the workings of the project and how you can get the best out of the experience. If you want to learn more about the IB definition of the Personal Project, follow this link.
Have you ever wanted to build a computer? Do you have a secret passion for photography? Are you curious about Nomadic culture? Do you want to learn a new language? Maybe you like dogs? Now is your chance to do what you want to do and put your skills and your knowledge into a project of personal significance. Remember: you will be engaging and working on this project for an extended period; therefore, it should be something that you want to do, something that you enjoy doing. Nonetheless, whatever goal you decide to work on, you should:
Have a clear, achievable and challenging goal;
Be focused on one global context;
Allow you to express a truly personal message;
Be the result of your initiative, creativity and ability to organize and plan;
Reflect your special interests, hobbies, special abilities, or concerns about particular issues;
Deal with a topic or area to which you are committed;
Be entirely your own work;
Answer your question of inquiry.
Aspects of the Personal Project
The Personal Project includes four main aspects:
An outcome or product:
Due to the projects broad nature, it may take many forms, such as:
An outcome as a result of a personal initiative
A presentation of a developed business, management, or organizational plan
An invention or specially-designed object or system
An original work of art (visual, dramatic, musical, performances, etc.)
Amongst others. Therefore, do not restrict yourself, since there are endless possibilities of outcomes.
A Process Journal
The process journal is an extremely important aspect of the personal project. If your process journal is thorough and well-organized, it will make it easier for you to write the final report.
The process journal is a documentation of the process of development for your project, it can be written, visual, audio, or a combination.
The best advice I would give you, is to attempt to write at least one entry every week, it does not have to be extensive, just a small comment on your progress; or if you had a big advancement make sure to include your reflection and evidence.
Think of the journal as a diary. Allow yourself to reflect on all aspects, moments of frustration, doubt, success, all moments are critical to show your engagement in the process.
It is a working document, it does not need to be neat and well presented
As a part of your final report submission, you will be providing 10 pages of appendices from your process journal. You will need to choose excerpts of your process journal as evidence.
Example of process journal entry:
The most important part of the personal project.
Aims to inform and explain the process of the personal project.
The report must include evidence for all strands of all criteria.
Regardless of your success in creating your outcome/ product, what matters at the end is your report. Therefore, the most critical advice:
Follow the assessment criteria. View here.
Opportunity to present and share your personal project journey and outcome with the community
How do you have a Successful Project?
Setting a goal
The majority of your project will be evaluated on your selected goal and how well you demonstrate and explain your success; therefore, setting an appropriate and SMART goal is the most crucial step you can take to ensure a successful project. Select a goal that is of personal interest!
A basic goal: what am I going to make or do?
A challenging goal: what am I going to do and for what purpose?
A highly challenging goal has multiple parts to it and leads to greater learning.
Consider the number of verbs you have in the goal. The more verbs the greater the likelihood of learning and challenge. You must be able to justify why the goal is highly challenging to you.
To design my own electric violin.
To research violin design and making and then design my own electric violin.
To research violin design and making and then design and produce my own 4 or 5 string electric violin.
To design my own summer clothing collection.
To research current fashion trends and then design my own summer clothing collection.
To research current fashion trends and how to design patterns. Then design and create a summer clothing collection and then learn how to create a 'template website' to market my design.
To raise $400 for the education of an Indonesian child
To sponsor an Indonesian child to university for 4 years by raising $1500.
To volunteer at the International Humanities Foundation over the school term break and then raise $1500 to sponsor an Indonesian child to university for 4 years.
To donate money to a school in Bali
To raise money for a school in Bali and then donate the money raised to the school.
To research schools in Bali and then raise money to purchase stationery for the school to support education.
(Table extracted from: https://materchristi.libguides.com/personal_project/define_a_goal)
How to write a goal Having trouble writing a SMART and highly challenging goal? This 4-minute video identifies the difference between a basic and a highly challenging goal.
Personal Project Themes Having trouble brainstorming ideas for the personal project? Take a look at this extensive list of possible themes for exploration.
Selecting a global context for your project is a required component of the personal project. However, choosing the proper global context for your project is pivotal.
You have the option of choosing between six global contexts; once you decide upon one, you must make sure that it relates to your goal. The image below gives you an example of how to match a goal to a global context.
Question of Inquiry
The inquiry question is not only a required aspect of your project, but it is also a great guiding tool since it provides a clear focus for your project. Having a clear inquiry question will help guide you throughout your investigation, research, and during your action.
Examples of inquiry questions:
-What strategies and techniques can students use to more effectively manage and complete homework?
-What could teachers do to make learning experiences more enjoyable and effective for Middle School students at our school?
-Why is it important to train a dog and what are effective ways to achieve this aim?
The design model will be a valuable and critical tool to help you work through the process and the factors demanded.
Planning and Staying Organized
Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of the project is staying organized. Not only will it help you succeed throughout the project, but planning also plays an essential role as evidence in the process journal and in the final report.
PLAN AHEAD! A phenomenal tool for planning and can be used to plot the progress of a project. A required aspect of the project, and a phenomenal way to showcase your journey and time management skills. Simultaneously, a great tool to help you manage your time throughout the project; by setting yourself deadlines, thus maximizing your time and avoiding procrastination.
In your process journal, brainstorm (e.g., bullet point list, mind map, notes) all of the things that need to be completed throughout the process. For instance: interviews, appointments, researching, excursions, writing, anything, and everything. Using this list created, fill in your GANTT chart with all the items from your list, creating personal deadlines for each task.
Working with your supervisor
Your supervisor is there to help you. They will be there to keep you on track, provide you with feedback, help you with resources if need be, and provide comments on your report. Make sure that you regularly schedule meetings with your supervisor to seek advice and ask questions that will benefit you. Remember, your supervisor is your best friend during your personal project.
Writing the Report
The most critical component of the Personal Project… the report. The ever so intimidating and tedious task, yet the most important. Writing a well-structured report, meeting all required criteria and components is critical to ensuring high marks. What will allow you to reach full marks is following the assessment criteria: view here and ensure that your report covers all aspects of the criteria and each criterion band. Below you will find a checklist for the report, with the essential components that should be covered for each band.
The Ultimate Student Checklist for the Report:
Criterion A - Investigating
Define a clear goal and global context for the project, based on personal interests
Identify prior learning and subject specific knowledge relevant to the project
Demonstrate research skills
Criterion B - Planning
Develop criteria for the product/outcome
Plan and record the development process of the project
Demonstrate self-management skills
Criterion C - Taking Action
Create a product/outcome in response to the goal, global context and criteria
Demonstrate thinking skills
Demonstrate communication and social skills
Criterion D - Reflecting
Evaluate the quality of the product/outcome against their criteria
Reflect on how completing the project has extended their knowledge and understanding of the topic and the global context
Reflect on their development as IB learners through the project
The Personal Project may be intimidating and overwhelming, but if you choose a topic and goal that you are passionate about, you will find yourself enjoying the project and process immensely. Allowing yourself to explore your greatest interests will lead to not only an incredible learning experience but a simultaneous great project and outcome.
More fantastic sources for the Personal Project: