| Semester Projects
College Division image; link to college web site
College Division image; link to college web site
For LayoutFor Layout
For Layout
For LayoutFor Layout|For LayoutFor Layout|For LayoutContact Us
For Layout
For Layout
For Layout
For Layout
For Layout
> General Resources > Semester Projects
General Resources

Use these general resource documents and activities to help increase your success in this course. Some content requires software plugins. Visit our Plugin Help Center for help with downloading plugins.

Semester Projects

Semester Projects


Semester Project 1

Title: Personal Learning Theory

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students think and reflect about their personal philosophy of teaching and learning. Students will reflect on what the experiences are that affect their philosophy and will be encouraged to make connections between their own beliefs and research in educational psychology.

Objectives:

  • Develop a personal philosophy of teaching and learning
  • Develop an understanding of how a personal philosophy of teaching and learning affects future teaching
  • Make connections between personal beliefs and class content

Student Project:

Identify and articulate your personal theory of learning and teaching! Your personal theory should be the culmination of (1) your own experience as a student, (2) your insights from field experiences, and (3) the content and activities introduced in this course. This theory paper should be developed as an ongoing process during the semester. You should arrange with your instructor so he/she will look at your outline and rough drafts mid-semester. At the end of the semester, your instructor will assess your paper according to the following rubrics:

Rubric:

A lot

None

Reflects on personal beliefs regarding the teaching-learning process

4

3

2

1

0

Articulates how personal beliefs would shape future classroom teaching

4

3

2

1

0

Connects personal beliefs to experiences in classroom situations

4

3

2

1

0

Connects personal beliefs to class content

4

3

2

1

0

Overall flow of the paper

4

3

2

1

0


Assessment:

What were the strengths and weaknesses of your paper according to the rubrics above?

Variation:

  1. Conduct a peer conference on drafts of your personal philosophy paper.
  2. Form small group publishing teams of three to six members. Publish your theory papers as a group in a format like a journal or teacher magazine with a journal title, table of contents, journal purpose, review guidelines, etc.


[Return to Top]


Semester Project 2

Title: Group Co-teaching

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students experience performance-based assessment and collaborative learning. Students will also have an opportunity to teach a mini lesson to their own peers.

Objectives:

  • Engage in collaborative project-based learning
  • Experience the preparation and delivery of instruction
  • Develop habits for reflection on personal teaching experiences

Student Project:


Form groups of two to three individuals. Each group will be responsible to prepare and teach a thirty-minute lesson based on one of the chapter topics from the textbook. The instructor will assign groups to their topics. Each group will be responsible for the following: (1) present an overview of the main themes introduced in the chapter; (2) create an activity that would demonstrate your topic to the class; (3) introduce relevant field observation experiences, and (4) create handout materials.

Once the instructor assigns your group to a topic, conduct your first meeting. By the end of this meeting you should have a timeline and division of team roles. E-mail this information to your instructor. Each group will be given two weeks to prepare their lesson.

Additionally, each group member will be responsible to write a four- to five-page reflection paper on: (1) what concepts you learned from this project that were personally meaningful; (2) what you learned about working in groups; (3) how these learning experiences will affect your future teaching; and (4) peer evaluation of how much effort each individual put into the project on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest effort and 5 being the highest. Your reflection paper is due a week after you conduct the lesson.

Your teaching performance, prepared materials, and reflection paper will be assessed according to the following rubrics.

Rubrics:

Teaching Performance

A lot

None

Clarity of Presentation

Represented By: Organization of material

4

3

2

1

0

Evidence of Understanding of Material

Represented By: Clarity of explanations of terms introduced in presentation

4

3

2

1

0

Professionalism Related to Teaching

Represented By: Appropriate use of visual aids, engagement of audience, and assessment strategies

4

3

2

1

0

Relevancy of Activity Introduced

Represented By: the activities introduced during class hour

4

3

2

1

0



Reflection Paper

A lot

None

Clarity for articulating concepts learned

2

1

0

Clarity for articulating learning from groups

2

1

0

Description of impact on future teaching

2

1

0


Assessment:

What were the strengths and weaknesses of your paper according to the rubrics provided above?

Variation:

  1. After the lesson presentations, discuss and analyze the instructional approaches chosen by each group. Also discuss how you might use the approaches presented in your own future teaching.
  2. Instead of thirty-minute lessons at any point in the semester, present near the end of the semester for ten to fifteen minutes, on topics or concepts that are mentioned or alluded to only briefly (e.g., home schooling, Montessori schools, accelerated schools).


[Return to Top]


Semester Project 3

Title: Chapter Reading Log

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students become aware of educational psychology research on topics covered in the textbook.

Objectives:

  • Become aware of educational psychology research
  • Develop skills for using the ERIC database

Student Project:

Maintain chapter reading logs for each topic in the textbook: The logs include: (1) a paragraph of three insights you gain from the chapter; (2) ERIC search results you obtain in the library related to each topic; and (3) comments on one of the articles you read related to the chapter topic you found from your ERIC search.

Assessment:

Do you have logs for all chapters? Did you conduct ERIC searches for all chapter topics? Did you read articles related to each chapter in the textbook?

Variation:

  1. For ten to fifteen minutes during class, pass your journal logs to a neighbor for comments and a question.
  2. You can volunteer to create a web database of journal logs of other students.
  3. Bring one or two of the best articles you read during the semester. Form teams of four or five people based on common interest. Work on creating a short ten to fifteen minute presentation of what you learned from the articles. Each team needs to create a handout to distribute to the class.


[Return to Top]


Semester Project 4

Title: Movie Review

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students apply concepts addressed in class to other situations.

Objectives:

  • Develop understanding of the complexities of teaching situations
  • Apply learning and motivation theories to a fictional situation
  • Reflect on differences/similarities between portrayal of teaching and learning in media with personal experiences

Student Project:

This activity involves choosing and watching a popular movie that portrays teaching and learning and using that context to understand some of the theories and concepts discussed in the text and in class. You may end up watching the movie more than once throughout the semester, as you consider the story and characters in light of various concepts. A short "starter" list of possible movies follows. Your instructor may provide other selections.

To Sir, With Love
Dead Poets’ Society
Conrack
Teachers
Kindergarten Cop
Stand and Deliver

Mr. Holland's Opus

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

 

 

 

Dangerous Minds
Blackboard Jungle
Man Without a Face
Summer School
Clueless
The Principal

The Breakfast Club

Billy Madison


Assessment:

A series of short papers or journal entries could be compiled based on the following questions to consider. These papers/journals could be submitted for a grade or provide the basis for class discussions.

Questions:

  1. Is this teacher effective? If so, what characteristics demonstrate effectiveness? If not, what could be done to improve effectiveness? Provide examples and make connections to your own experiences and course content.
  2. Comment on the developmental level of the students. Be sure to consider all aspects: physical, social, cognitive, moral, etc. Relate this to course content. For example, what impact does cognitive development have on instruction and assessment? How might social development affect the teacher’s choice of instructional strategies?
  3. What is the general impression conveyed by this movie in its depiction of teachers and students? What impact has this movie had on you as a future teacher? What behaviors would you like to model in your own classroom? Why would you want to model these behaviors or characteristics? Provide examples.
  4. Comment on motivational issues presented by teachers and students. What aspects of motivation theories discussed in the text do you find in the movie? How might you resolve motivational issues of teachers and/or students?

Variation:

  1. Share your answers in groups of three to four (groups should include individuals who have watched the same movie) and discuss the similarities and differences of the answers of each group. Then discuss why these similarities and differences exist. Develop a group review of this movie in response to each question.
  2. Share answers to questions in mixed groups (those who have watched different movies). What common themes emerge? What impact does media portrayal of teachers have on the public perception of teachers? Share with the class.
  3. Work in small groups of two to four people who watched the same or similar movies. Compile lists of educational psychology concepts and descriptions of those concepts that appear in each movie. Perhaps, organize these lists by movie segment so that they are can be played in class. Post the lists to the web or publish in another format.


[Return to Top]


Semester Project 5

Title: Interviews

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students apply concepts addressed in class to local teaching and learning situations.

Objectives:

  • Develop understanding of the complexities of teaching environments
  • Reflect on differences/similarities between experienced professionals and novices in their thoughts and opinions about teaching and learning



Student Project:


This activity involves setting up a series of interviews with local teachers, administrators, and parents. The interviews will be framed around issues you discuss throughout the semester.

Assessment:

Each assignment requires the student to develop a set of specific questions, which the instructor may approve or alter. A series of short papers or journal entries could be compiled based on the following interviews. These papers/journals could be submitted for a grade or provide the basis for class discussions.

Questions:

  1. Interview a teacher about what he or she perceives as the main issues related to teaching. What does the teacher perceive as the differences between the attitudes and techniques of expert and novice teachers? Ask the teacher how he or she knows the students have learned. Ask what system the teacher uses for grading and whether he or she uses tests. If yes, what kind? If not, what does the teacher use to assess students’ progress? Ask about the most difficult aspect of giving students grades and for any advice for new teachers about setting up a grading system. How does the teacher keep students motivated? What is the role of the teacher in the classroom? Ask about how the teacher communicates with parents and administrators.
  2. Interview a principal about how his or her school is doing on standardized achievement tests. Ask the principal about his/her feelings about the movement toward more authentic assessment. Will it affect the school? How? Ask about the roles of teachers, administrators, and parents in the school. How are issues of management and discipline handled within the school?
  3. Interview a parent about his or her experiences with the child’s school. How does the school facilitate communication? What role does the parent play in the education of his/her child? How is this supported/refuted by the school? Ask about how the parent communicates with the teacher and administration. Ask about the parent’s understanding of assessment issues. Find out the parent's thoughts about standardized testing.

Variation:

  1. The class could be divided into groups, with each group responsible for interviewing a group of teachers, administrators, or parents. Each group could develop a profile of the collected responses, comparing it to information available from state or national resources (e.g., through ERIC).
  2. Bring a panel of one or two teachers, administrators, and parents to the class. Have each present his/her views on the current status of standardized testing or other educational issue. You can engage in a discussion with the panel.


[Return to Top]


Semester Project 6

Title: Personal Glossary

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students gain technical and practical understanding of concepts presented in the text.

Objectives:

  • Develop a teaching resource
  • Gain understanding of abstract concepts



Student Project:

One aspect of becoming a professional in any field is learning the jargon associated with that field. Teaching is no exception. In your educational psychology class, you have the opportunity to become familiar with many abstract concepts and jargon associated with teaching. This project will help you understand those terms and become more comfortable using them. For this activity, you will choose terms from the text and develop your own professional glossary. It is a good idea to choose terms that are difficult for you — by the end of this project, you will know them! A list of terms may be provided to you, or you may develop your own list of fifty to seventy-five terms. For each term, do these three things: (1) locate and copy the text definition, (2) put that definition in your own words, and (3) generate an example or personal story related to what the term means.

A general list of terms follows:

Advance organizers
Behaviorism
Constructivism
Equilibration
Inclusion
Learning
Learning goals
Median
Metacognition
Punishment
Reliability
Scaffolding
Transfer

 

 

 

Assessment
Conditioning
Development
Extrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation
Learning disabilities
Mean
Mode
Mnemonics
Negative reinforcement
Positive reinforcement
Reflectivity
Research
Theory
Validity


Assessment:

This glossary may be turned in or may be utilized as a resource for exams or other assignments.

Each entry should have three parts: (1) the text definition, (2) your interpretation of that definition (i.e., put it in your own words), and (3) a personal or practical illustration of this term.

Variation:

  1. Form small groups. Groups are responsible for terms of two to three chapters of the book. Compile these lists and create a single glossary for the class. Make copies for all students or post on the web.
  2. As an option, you can turn in fifty to seventy-five words in an electronic format. One to three students can volunteer to compile and sort through the terms in one gigantic file. Weed out multiple postings of the same term.



[Return to Top]


Semester Project 7

Title: Educational Psychology Encyclopedia

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students gain practical understanding of concepts presented in the text through a cooperative learning strategy.

Objectives:

  • Develop a teaching resource
  • Gain understanding of abstract concepts


Student Project:

Within educational psychology there are many abstract and difficult concepts, particularly for preservice teachers with little or no teaching experience. For that reason, it is useful to develop some tools to take with you into other education classes and eventually, into your own classroom. In this case, you will be working with other class members to create an encyclopedia of in-depth knowledge about topics discussed in class.

Your instructor will assign you to a group. Each group will focus on a particular concept, though individual group members will have somewhat different areas to consider. The following is a list of some of the topics to be considered, as well as some suggestions for how group assignments might be made:

Topics to consider

  • Motivation
  • Assessment
  • Learning styles
  • Lesson planning
  • Discipline/classroom management
  • Development
  • Theoretical approaches to teaching
  • Theoretical approaches to learning
  • Strategies to enhance learning
  • Resources for teachers

Suggestions for group assignments

Within each group, one or two people might be assigned to develop information from each of the following information sources (Note that some of these information sources overlap, while others might be more appropriate for particular topics):

  • Each of the theoretical approaches considered in the text (e.g., behaviorism, constructivism), including biographical information on relevant theorists
  • Information found on the Internet related to the topic
  • Information found in recent publications (this may be further specified as popular press, education journals, other journals and publications)
  • State-specific resources (this may include individuals, offices, web sites, publications)
  • Editor/task minder — this person checks with group members on their assignments, and ultimately takes responsibility for pulling all the information together into a clear encyclopedia entry; this individual also works with other editors to make sure the final product will have consistent format
  • Textbook summarizer — responsible for appropriately summarizing text and exploring text suggestions for further reading
  • Local experts — interviews local experts on the subject (from higher education in various departments, from local school districts, from alternative schools, from local government, including school boards) and summarizes those views; alternatively, this person might set up conference call with these experts or work with instructor to arrange class visits from these experts or e-mail contact with experts
  • National experts — similar to local experts, only at a national level. For example, this person might contact experts from AERA, APA, or theorists for commentary on a particular subject or recent event
  • Bibliographer — will collect all contact and source information from group members and present it in APA or other format

At the end of the semester, each group will submit their findings. A class encyclopedia will be the result of combining the efforts of all groups. This encyclopedia could be made available to class members in hard copy or on a web site.

Assessment:

The individual group efforts may be turned in or the instructor may evaluate the final product as a class encyclopedia. Groups could be scheduled to give informal progress reports during the semester, or more formal presentations tying their group topic to the syllabus.

Variation:

  1. Work with another class (or set of classes) and have a competition wherein these classes develop encyclopedias of the same educational psychology terms. Bring in two or more outside officials (e.g., students and instructors from other sections of the same class) to judge the result. Perhaps hand out awards when done.
  2. Work with another class by assigning different educational psychology terms to each group, thereby increasing the power of the combined efforts. Have groups review the work of other groups. Share combined team efforts with each other and perhaps with other sections of the same class or with other instructors.
  3. Post student term encyclopedia work to the web (perhaps have a student volunteer do this in lieu of some task or assignment). Increase this web resource with student postings each semester. You might post a few exemplary or interesting projects near the top of the web site as guides or models. You might also consider developing a way to electronically rate or evaluate these projects. Over time, weed out and update old term projects.


[Return to Top]


Semester Project 8

Title: Book Notes

Purpose:

This activity is designed to help students review text and other sources to enhance understanding of concepts presented in the course.

Objectives:

  • Help students keep up with reading assignments
  • Enhance understanding of material through this review strategy
  • Provide students with review materials for exams

Student Project:

In this course, and probably many others, multiple demands are made on your time as a student. It can be difficult to keep up with all the reading assignments and other projects. For this reason, you will be asked to keep notes on your reading of the text (and other materials, if assigned). Though this sounds like more work, it will pay off as you prepare for exams and later pursue a teaching career. Your instructor may allow you to bring in your book notes as you take an exam.

As you read each assigned chapter or section, take notes on index cards or 8½ x 11 paper (of course, your instructor may assign a particular format). These notes should contain the most important elements of the reading. For instance, they include definitions of concepts, descriptions of particular theories or theorists associated with a particular view, examples generated in class, summaries of key topics (no more than two or three sentences) in your own words, etc. To encourage summarizing and deeper cognitive processing of information, your instructor may suggest that book notes for each chapter consist of no more than one page or one or two index cards.

It is NOT acceptable to photocopy or otherwise reproduce sections of the text and present them as book notes. Such activity will be considered plagiarism and may be subject to university regulations regarding plagiarism.

Assessment:

Book notes may be turned in with exams. Students may receive variable points on the exam, depending on the quality of the notes. By reviewing book notes, instructors are assured that students have spent time going through the text thoroughly and can often spot the source of student misconceptions.

NOTE: This assignment may be highly motivating for students if they are allowed to bring in book notes to exams but may be somewhat ineffective if done as a last minute preparation for a test.

Variation:

  1. Assign students to develop a mnemonic device for a particular topic, to enhance retrieval of the material covered in a particular section of the text. Students may be invited to share their mnemonics with classmates.
  2. Rather than having students generate book notes for the entire semester, particular chapters might be assigned to different members of the class. These notes could be compiled and discussed as a review activity for the exam.
  3. Book notes might be graded in place of an exam. The instructor might look for such elements as uniformity of entries, depth of processing as presented in summarized material, misconceptions, etc.
[Return to Top]

Semester Project 9

Title: Course-long Reflective Journal

Purpose:

The following questions are specifically designed for use in classroom observations. They may also be useful for students for reflecting on their current learning environments.

Objective:

  • Experience the use of a reflective journal in teaching.

Student Project:

From the beginning of the semester, keep a journal containing observations of elementary or secondary classrooms OR your campus classrooms. Each journal should include the following entries:

Classroom environment: Describe the seating, lights, and general atmosphere of the room for facilitating learning.

  • Is the lighting adequate?
  • Are there any computers or TV monitors in the room?
  • How is the technology used there?
  • Is there any background noise?
  • How is the classroom space utilized?

Special student needs: Describe how individual differences of students are addressed in this classroom.

  • Do any students in the classroom have learning disabilities or other special needs? How do you know? What signs made you aware of those needs?
  • Are there gifted students in this classroom? How do you know?
  • How are the needs of the students being met?

Behavioral dilemmas: Keep a list of the problems and dilemmas the teacher encountered today and rank them in terms of difficulty and importance. Then describe an instance when the teacher used behavioral learning theory to handle a classroom problem.

  • What happened?
  • What did the teacher do in this situation?
  • What did the student do?
  • What might each have done differently?
  • What was the result?

Cognitive theory: Describe the teacher’s use of cognitive psychology during teaching.

  • Did the teacher use advance organizers?
  • How was the information presented to the students?
  • Did the teacher use any discovery learning? Were groups used to help discover important aspects or was the work done individually?
  • What questions do the students and teacher ask?
  • Did the teacher attempt to address and dispel naïve theories about the world before proceeding with new information?

Social skills and friendships: Describe the friendship patterns of the classroom you are visiting.

  • Is there an apparent hierarchy of students?
  • Are friendships mostly with others of the same sex or opposite sex?

Motivation and classroom management: Describe the management and motivational techniques used by the teacher.

  • Which techniques being used are the most effective? Least effective?
  • What teaching practices motivate these students?
  • Are individual interests taken into consideration in providing a supportive learning atmosphere?
  • How much time is actually spent "on task"?
  • Select one or two students and try to determine how they attribute their successes and failures.
  • Is the teacher using I-messages or empathetic listening? Provide examples.
  • What percentage of class time is spent on the following?
    1. Self-paced/individual learning
    2. Lecture/demonstration
    3. Small cooperative groups
    4. Competitive activities or examinations
    5. Other

Effective teaching: Describe and rank the success stories of this teacher and classroom over the period of your observation.

  • What teaching methods are being used effectively and ineffectively?
  • Discuss any disappointments you saw in the classroom.
  • Discuss any great success stories you saw in the classroom.
  • Is this a classroom where you would like to teach?
  • What do you think about teaching now?
  • How well does this observation build on what you read and discussed this semester?

Assessment:

Each journal should contain at least the entries listed above. Use reflections in your journal for class discussion. Discussion topics could include the usefulness of reflection on the teaching of others versus one’s own teaching, journal writing as an assessment tool, or various specific themes generated by students.

Variation:

  1. If you do not have opportunities to observe in local schools, observe a specific college class. In all cases, anonymity should be preserved as much as possible, and pseudonyms assigned to any teachers and students who are the subjects of observation.
  2. As opposed to a K-12 or college classroom, do your reflections on a learning center, museum, zoo, or other informal or nontraditional learning situation.
[Return to Top]


For Layout