Project Guidelines

Projects are an important component of this course. You will be expected to complete several projects this semester. Each project will present you will a substantial problem to solve. Solving the problem will take two to three weeks. You will be working in groups of three or four students. All the members of your project group will receive the same grade for the project. Here are some suggestions:

Group work: Be sure you get off to an early start, since project require extensive thought and development of ideas as well as clear, concise writeups. Your group should meet shortly after the project is assigned to map out a solution strategy and several more times during the actual solution period. Often when a group is writing up its report, someone finds that there is an error (or gap) in the proposed solution. Therefore, you should aim to have your report completed well before it is due.

Consultations: You should feel free to consult me about your projects. I will try to point you away from undue difficulties without giving away the heart of the project. You may also consult with the instructor of another section doing projects, provided that instructor is willing and able to meet with you. You may not consult with students in other groups (this is only to avoid an unfair situation where groups A and B share things while C and D work by themselves) or others. You may consult textbooks for formulas, etc, but not for copying without thinking. You must understand each step of every part of your solution.

Formal writeup: Your final report is to be typed on standard 8.5 x 11 " paper. Equations and graphs may be neatly hand written. Graphs are to be clearly drawn and well labeled or computer produced. Be sure that the names of all the members of the group appear on the cover page.

Audience: In writing your report, assume the reader is a student in another calculus class who has not worked on this project. Annotate any derivations that appear in the report, and explain the steps in your reasoning.

Take as much pride in your report as you would if you were writing it for an employer on whom you wish to make a favorable impression.

Efficiency: Here are some suggestions to help you work more efficiently. First, re-read the handout you were given at the beginning of the semester, Some Suggestions on Working in Groups; the same tips and techniques which you have used for in-class Activities can easily be translated into strategies for your Projects. Also, when you are finished with a part of the project, you might want to write up that part, to help avoid an "all nighter" the night before the project is due. Word processing will be a big help since it makes it easy to make changes if/when you catch mistakes. Word processing also makes it possible for different people to share in the typing of the report. You should avoid a group setup where one person does the "thinking" and another is responsible for "production" of the report. If you don't know any word processing see me. I am assuming you all have some experience with word processing.

Meetings: Meetings should have some structure and a time limit (of course if you are making progress by leaps and bounds, you can certainly extend the meeting so long as that does not cause a problem for anyone). You should each think about the project before the meeting. Before the end of any meeting you should decide what is to be done (and who is doing it) before the next meeting.

Log: Your group should keep a log. The log should be handed in with your final report. It should include at least the following: dates and times the group met, members who attended that meeting, brief summary of any decisions reached (e.g. Mary will type up this part, Pat will draw a graph, we will use Word-perfect on the report, Chris will investigate =4 for next time, etc.)

Evaluation of the experience: Each member should hand in an evaluation of the group's performance. Did your group work well cooperatively? Explain why or why not. These reports should be individual, and I will keep them confidential. Although I will not use these reports in assigning grades for the project, they may be helpful in determining future group assignments. You should also include in the evaluations any suggestions, improvements, or comments about the project.

Modified and adapted from "Guidelines for Projects" in Calculus: An Active Approach with Projects and Appendix B of Student Research Projects in Calculus