2010-2011 News — 22 February 2011

Project seen as unwelcome rite of passage
By Mindy Nguyen

For many years, it has been essential for senior students to do their senior project in order to graduate. However, students often question its importance and whether it should be a graduation requirement.
According to the Oakland Unified School District website, the senior project must be a “serious research project or exhibition which demonstrates achievement of school-wide learning goals and designated key content standards.”

Some teachers believe that the senior project really is a true benefit to senior students because the project allows students to learn skills needed for the future. “It teaches them how to do the research, how to put it together, gather it all into a presentation, and present it all in front of people,” said Don Brooke, math teacher. “It would help them because jobs have projects as well and, unlike in high school, nobody will guide you through them.”

According to seniorproject.net, a senior project often consists of a student having to research a topic, write a paper about their topic of choice, create a portfolio, and finally present their topic to their peers. Students and teachers have mixed opinions on whether the senior project should be required to pass in order to graduate high school.

“In my opinion, I don’t think it should be a requirement but I do believe it should be incorporated into a class structure,” said Brooke. “But it isn’t so difficult that it’s impossible to pass.”

Some senior students agree that the senior project can be counted as a beneficial and good requirement because they know it can better prepare them for future projects.
“I’m not excited about the senior project but I do see the good points to it,” said Buu Buu Ly, senior. “We [the senior students] do need to learn how to research and type it up, I know that there will be more when we get into college. It’s best to know how to learn it now and ask teachers for help when we need it.”
Although senior students are taught to research and put it together into a presentation, some are upset at how unprepared they feel when they receive their senior project instructions.
“It’s kind of ridiculous,” said Yen Nguyen, senior. “Seniors have been taught about writing papers, but we weren’t really prepared to do all these things.”
Brooke believes that it is a problem to give students a senior project without proper time and guidance. He said it would be a good idea to create a course for the second semester of junior year in which students are taught how to do outlines, use resources, and write up reports–skills he finds essential to future projects.

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