“How does the MYP Personal Project teach inquiry and independence skills?”

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As the culmination of the IB Middle Years Programme, the Personal Project offers our final year MYP students an opportunity to develop and showcase the skills and knowledge that they have been building throughout their secondary education. As an IB World School, ICS runs the Primary Years Programme Exhibition in the final year of the PYP and the Community Project in the third year of the PYP, in addition to the Personal Project in the MYP – all independent, inquiry based learning experiences.

As the name suggests, the Personal Project is focussed on a subject or challenge that the individual student has chosen for themselves. For possibly the first time, students will be working with staff members in the role of supervisor rather than teacher. The parameters of the project are set by the student, with the supervisor there to guide them through the process and towards goals that challenge them. Of course the nature of this challenge will vary from student to student. Some may relish pushing themselves academically, others will enjoy the opportunity to exercise their creativity and hands on skills.

Some recent topics have included subjects as diverse as:

“What is Alzheimer's disease and how can patients benefit from an app specifically designed to suit their needs?”

“What are the effects of combat sports on the human body and what role does science and play in that?”

“How is Artificial Intelligence going to transform marketing with regards to the interest of consumers?”

Our international setting is often reflected in the students’ choices. For example, past topics have included:

“Are audio books a more effective way of teaching bilingual students?”

“To investigate and raise awareness of the impact of anxiety in young people in a range of societies around the world.”

“An investigation into recent conflicts in Azerbaijan.”

Having established an area of interest students will research their topic and begin working towards their goal or product. This may take the form of designing an app, drawing an animated film, building a website or creating a series of artworks.

The list is unlimited and we are often impressed by how our students synthesise the information they have gathered through research into a product that helps an audience understand the issue they have been exploring.

Students set their own success criteria for the product – establishing beforehand how they will know whether or not they have achieved the highest standard.

Below, we showcase some of our student’s 2019 Personal Project work, including a video by Dania on Depression, and the websites of two other students Personal Projects, including one on the topic of Combat Sports and their effects on our bodies, and another on Artificial Intelligence in Marketing.

 
 

Independent Learning is one of the key skills developed through the Personal Project. Students need to plan their own schedules in terms of research, working on their product and finally writing up a reflective report on the process. They must use initiative in order to contact experts for interview, evaluate a wide range of resources and prioritise work in their busy final year schedules. In fact, Time Management is most often mentioned by students as the skill they will be taking forward into their Diploma years.

It is also important that the students’ new insights are shared with the wider school community and so an exhibition is held where the work can be showcased. As students face challenging questions from their peers and families they reflect on their learning and this in turn informs the write up of their final report. In line with the rest of the Middle Years Programme, students are then marked against rigorous criteria which expect them to demonstrate that they have been highly challenged by the project. We also send examples away to the IB for external moderation, thereby ensuring that our students’ work is in line with the high IB standard around the world.

 At ICS, we foreground the importance of the IB Approaches to Learning (ATLs). The Personal Project is the ideal vehicle for students to strengthen their resilience, independence, self-management and more. In this way they are well prepared for the rigours of the Diploma Programme where the Extended Essay is a demanding academic piece of work accomplished independently and where time management and resilience are vital to success.