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Independent Study Policies

So you want to do a independent study/project with me...

I have a few general policies about independent study projects. You should read over these policies before coming to me with an independent study idea.

1. If you are interested in an independent study, it will probably be the most interesting and beneficial to you to come up with an idea of a project you would like to work on. If you come to me asking for a project, you will get stuck working on some aspect of my research dealing with educational issues and curricular development, which will more than likely be boring to you. If you do not have an idea, and think you might be interested in something dealing with my research, I can usually come up with projects that fit into my research interests.

2. I can supervise projects for an independent study that do not exactly align with my research interests as well. I don't travel too far out of my comfort zone, because that tends not to work well for me or you. However, I have supervised students working on game development, and some other areas. Don't be afraid to ask me about a project if you have an idea. If I don't feel I am the best person to work with on that project, I will tell you so.

3. I prefer to supervise students that I have seen in the context of a class or research setting. By observing you in a teaching or research scenario, I am able to better judge your ability to complete your intended project. Furthermore, if you have worked with me in the past, you will know my expectations.

4. Generally, I expect projects to be completed in a semester unless arrangements have been made previously with me to extend beyond that. Credit hours that you may register for will depend on the complexity of the project. A 3 credit hour independent study is supposed to take as much time in the semester as a 3 credit hour regular course. I have the final decision on how many credits you can register for in a particular semester if you are working with me.

5. The completion of the project is YOUR responsibilty. Although I will guide you, you must make every effort to complete the work and maintain communication. If you "fall off the radar" and have difficulties completing, it will be your responsibility alone to correct the situation. It helps to schedule weekly progress meetings so that I can track your progress on your project. Expect to spend at least one hour every week in my office explaining what you have accomplished in the previous week.

6. Your grade will be based on whether or not you completed the project. At the beginning of the semester, we will set a goal for completion. If you fail to meet that goal due to poor planning or effort, your grade will reflect that. The best way to ensure a good grade is to make sure that you stay in communication with me about your progress. Most projects can not be adequately completed by a 72-hour coding marathon at the end of the semester - remember to set targets for completion and work to achieve them throughout the semester.

7. I expect the highest academic standards in independent study work (as in regular coursework). If there is any indication of academic dishonesty in your work, I will seek the appropriate punishment as outlined in the department's policy on academic integrity.

8. I only have the resources to supervise a limited number of independent study students. Please make sure if you are interested in doing a project with me, you appoach me sooner than later. That means if you want to work on a independent study with me in the semester Fall XXXX, you should approach me in the middle of the Spring XXXX semester. Likewise, if you want to do a Spring XXXX independent study, you should approach me in the middle of the preceding fall semester. I can also supervise projects over the summer, but once again, you need to approach me in the middle of the preceding Spring semester. The first two weeks of class is not the appropriate time to approach me about an independent study. I will not accept independent study students for the current semester during that time.

9. My rules are subject to change, so please read this page before approaching me!

Independent Study Forms and Project Proposal Process

If you can abide by my rules and you have an interesting idea, then the next step is to fill out the independent study form.

Here is the document to begin filling out. It is the official form for independent studies. It can help to guide you as to what aspects are important about an independent study project. Prior to our initial discussions, your idea will be in draft form and no official papers will be signed until I have agreed to supervise your project and the project proposal has been formally written up.

Along with the sections that need to be filled in on the form, you should use the following to guide you in generating a proposal for your project. The proposal will need to be written down. If you are afraid of writing, working with me on an independent study is not for you.

* Statement of problem - Clearly state what it is you intend to solve.

* Significance of problem - What makes the problem interesting to you? [Why it would be interesting to me is also another question that would be good to consider during this process - the more likely I am to be interested in your project, the more likely I will be to say yes.]

* Literature Search - What references to you intend to consult? The wikipedia is not an appropriate reference for this purpose. If it is a technical project, what types of documentation are available for you to reference? If it is socially-based, what other types of studies have been done before in this area?

* Plan of work - What is it that you intend to do for your project. The more detail and planning the better for this portion. For technical projects, you should discuss design, architecture, and implementation ideas regarding your work. For social systems, you should include psychology and communications ideals that you wish to challenge or test.

* Deliverables - When you are done with your work, what will I receive? As part of any project, I will expect a project report. The best goal to set is to have completed a conference-worthy paper by the time your project is completed. If your project has been completed and a paper has been drafted, I will work with you to polish it and submit it to an appropriate conference.

* How do you know when are you done? - An important task students often forget to consider at this stage is to consider when the project is complete. I want a clear and concise description of where your project for this independent study. This helps to prevent "feature creep" in your work. If you finish one project and would like to continue on it and add to it the following semester, we can discuss options of extending your work after the initial project is finished.

* Timeline - an approximate week by week description of what you will do during the semester.


These guidelines adapted from Chris Egert's Capstone Project Guidelines
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